Australian missionary Patricia Fox has been on the headlines since she was detained by the Bureau of Immigration upon orders of President Duterte for having a “foul mouth” and alleged “disorderly conduct.”
What exactly has the 71-year-old nun done during the 27 years she has been in the Philippines to incur the wrath of the administration?
After she was apprehended by BI authorities, Church officials, leftist figures, and opposition politicians quickly defend Fox and condemned her detention.
How can a 71-year old nun, an Austrialian who decided to dedicate 27 years of her life in a third world country like the Philippines to help farmers and other poor and oppressed sectors, be even considered an undesirable alien? #FreeSisterPat… https://t.co/CPK0Ozu2g2
— Teddy Casiño (@teddycasino) April 17, 2018
Manila auxiliary bishop Broderick Pabillo was also among those who defended Fox’s presence in the country, saying she was in the Philippines to do humanitarian work for the labor sector.
Must read!The grip is getting tighter.By: Bishop Broderick PabilloI was walking along the Bureau of Immigration in…
Senator Nancy Binay questioned Fox’s detention in a statement posted on her Facebook page.
A 72-year old president with no respect for human rights and who’s facing accusations of crimes against humanity is far far more dangerous than a 71-year old nun who has been fighting for 27 years for the rights of the poor and marginalized
— Luis V. Teodoro (@luisteodoro) April 18, 2018
Not spared from Duterte’s wrath
President Rodrigo Duterte admitted he gave the order to detain Fox, but qualified that his directive was only to have Fox investigated.
His qualified apology also came with strong words for the missionary.
“You come here and insult us, you trample with our sovereignty. That will never happen,” said Duterte, in reference to Fox at an AFP change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo Wednesday.
He also said that Fox had “a foul mouth” and had no right to criticize him, despite offering no instance of the nun verbally insulting him or his administration.
Just a few days before Fox’s detention, Italian activist Giacomo Filibeck was held and deported after arriving in the Mactan-Cebu International Airport on grounds that he was engaging in “partisan political activity.”
Filibeck, an official of the Party of European Socialists, was invited by Akbayan party-list to attend its congress in Cebu City.
“It is unlawful for aliens staying in our country to engage in partisan political activities, and the government has the right to refuse entry to those who have committed these illegal acts in the past,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told the media.
Known Duterte supporter RJ Nieto through Thinking Pinoy blog posted an infographic claiming that Fox had been arrested during the Aquino administration.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF SISTER PATRICIA FOX
The Noynoy Aquino Administration also arrested Sr. Patricia Fox in 2013 for "illegal assembly, direct assault, trespassing and malicious mischief".
— ThinkingPinoy (@iMthinkingPinoy) April 17, 2018
The report on UCAnews details how Fox was part of a group helping farmers in Hacienda Luisita charged with illegal assembly, direct assault, trespass and malicious mischief.
Back to work and advocacy
Though Fox has been released for further investigation, the Palace has also gone on the record to admit that detaining the 71-year old may have been a mistake.
After a few media appearances, Fox apparently has returned to her work in the public interest and human rights sector.
Here we have a dedicated advocate. After being arrested, Sr. Pat immediately goes back to her work for the rural poor. What an icon tbh pic.twitter.com/8ZJcTJT7mB
— #StopKillingFarmers #SaveOurShores (@stevenbesana) April 17, 2018
Fox, mother superior of the Our Lady of Sion congregation in the Philippines, has been in the country for 27 years, has worked mostly with the urban poor, indigenous peoples, and farmers.
At the time of her arrest, she had just joined an international fact-finding and solidarity mission investigating alleged rights abuses in Mindanao.
According to a report by Newsweek, Fox had joined protests against the killing of farmers in Mindanao.
According to the National Intelligence Coordination Agency, she had allegedly been photographed raising a fist and wearing a “Stop Killing Farmers” t-shirt at a rally. Her lawyers have denied these claims.
Fox’s supporters, who claim to have seen her work, question where the allegations against her came from.
Sr. Pat Fox is no criminal or undesirable alien. She has long worked with poor farmers in the Philippines. We condemn her unjust detention and the deportation proceedings against her. Why is there a war on foreigners showing solidarity with Filipinos? pic.twitter.com/P7Ur43m44f
— Renato Reyes, Jr. (@natoreyes) April 16, 2018
Others also related how Fox had reached out to different parts of the country in the Australian native’s more than twenty years in the Philippines.