Deported missionary and human rights worker Sister Patricia Fox has received messages of continued support and gratitude from her colleagues in the Philippines after her return to her home country Australia.
The 72-year-old superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion in the Philippines on Saturday left the country where she worked for 27 years in compliance with the Bureau of Immigration’s order for her deportation released in July 2018.
She had been accused of engaging in partisan political activity, which foreigners are prohibited from joining under Philippine immigration laws, after she was allegedly photographed in rallies for land distribution and labor rights.
She had previously tried to appeal the forfeiture of her missionary visa to no avail.
Supporters and fans of her almost-three decades of missionary and human rights work in the Philippines have sent messages of praise and support amid her departure.
After *27 years* of faithful and courageous service as a missionary to the rural poor, Sr. Patricia Fox NDS leaves the Philippines today.
Maraming salamat po, Sister Pat! pic.twitter.com/hQ6x12ncvG
— Tonyo Cruz (@tonyocruz) November 3, 2018
Isn't it ironic?
Sr. Patricia Fox showed solidarity with the poor, was a missionary for justice and peace, and yet was forced to leave the country
Du30 curses the poor for being poor, issued countless death threats, and ordered bombings in Mindanao but gets to stay in Office.
— Jian (@tjay_santos) November 4, 2018
Photographs of her being welcomed by Filipino immigrants in Australia have also circulated in the days since her return.
The Filipino migrant movement in Melbourne welcomes Sister Patricia Fox. Let us continue the fight for social justice! pic.twitter.com/1I3hOyIXHN
— Laurence Castillo (@benok_castillo) November 3, 2018
Vice-President Leni Robredo said that she was saddened by Fox’s departure and that she believed Fox would eventually be allowed to resume her work in the Philippines soon.
Gabriela Party-list, part of the Makabayan bloc which fought for Fox’s right to stay in the Philippines, thanked her for serving the country’s marginalized.
“Her departure from the peasants and people forgotten by society, whom she had served wholeheartedly for almost three decades, will always be cherished,” the group said.
27 years in the Philippines
Fox in a May 2018 interview revealed that being part of a Filipino solidarity group in Australia inspired her to serve in the country. She decided to volunteer when her group decided to send a contingent to the Philippines for immersion.
She said that she grew fond of Filipinos due to their resilience.
Fox’s detainment in April 2018 following a BI order was met with widespread and criticism from both the Catholic church and the opposition. Many questioned why she was apprehended and deported for merely helping the country’s laborers and farmers.
President Rodrigo Duterte later admitted to ordering the probe on her on account of her reported ‘disorderly conduct’ but denied that he ordered her departure.
Fox has criticized the Duterte administration since her return to Australia.
“The human rights abuses are just increasing and it’s a reign of terror. Of tyranny,” she said in interviews.
Prior to her release, Fox called for genuine reform in the Philippines.
“We can’t be defeated since we are fighting for the masses and justice will prevail and the guilty will be held accountable,” Fox said in Filipino at a press conference.
She also urged the president to listen to the poor.
“I hope he (Duterte) listens to the cries of the minority. He should pay attention to and act on the plight of the urban poor, farmers, workers and indigenous people—and not just listen to the concerns of the military and business people,” she said.