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BI says Australian nun can still return to Philippines

The Bureau of Immigration on Thursday said that Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox can come back to the Philippines should the missionary comply with the bureau’s order to leave the country and avoid being included in the BI’s Black List Order.

BI spokesperson Dana Mengote-Sandoval made the statement after Fox’s counsel lawyer Jobert Pahilga insisted that the Australian nun would not leave the country and instead would file an appeal before the Department of Justice.

However, the BI official said even if an appeal was filed before the DoJ, the bureau would still enforce the leave order against the 71-year-old missionary.

“Unless sister Fox would not leave the country on May 25, Friday, another deportation case would be filed and the worst scenario that this may result for her inclusion in the bureau’s BLO,” Sandoval said.

The BI spokesperson said that there was nothing stated in the BI’s leave order against Sister Fox that she would be barred from entering the country after complying.

“To return to the Philippines, the nun would have to apply for a visa since her missionary visa was cancelled by the BI’s Board of Commissioners for engaging in political rallies,” she said.

Sandoval also explained that this was not the first incident of visa forfeiture as there were other cases before.

The BI official said the BOC has already reaffirmed its order forfeiting the missionary visa of Australian nun Patricia Fox and ordering her to leave the country.

Sandoval likewise said BOC has denied with finality the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Fox’s lawyers which sought a reversal of the Board’s April 23 order forfeiting her visa and directing her to leave the country within 30 days.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights said any threat to silence dissenters is an “affront to our ideals as a nation.”

“A recent example have been threats by certain personalities to get aspiring lawyers banned from taking the Bar exam after questioning and expressing strong opposition to the Supreme Court's decision on the quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno,” lawyer-spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

“At a time when the crucial system of checks and balances in our democracy is in question, one of the most important things we can do as citizens is speak up,” she added.

Exercising our freedoms of expression and to peaceably assemble allows the common people to have their voices be heard,  she added.

"These are opportunities for the government to listen to our grievances and provide redress," she cited.

The threat to silence those opposing the Supreme Court's quo warranto decision to remove then Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by blocking to take the Bar exam was a direct attack on their freedom of expression and their right as citizens of this country to speak on the issues that affect them, the CHR said.

One must not lose their rights by becoming a law student or a candidate for the Philippine Bar, it added.

"We condemn these threats on the freedom of speech of the Filipino people. Dissent is a sign of a healthy democracy," De Guia said.

"Allowing the people to speak against injustices is how nations progress and rise above times of trial and hardship," she said.

"In these times, the Commission hopes that  Filipinos do not lose faith, and to continue its fight in pursuit of fairness, righteousness, and the prevalence of the rule of law."

Topics: Bureau of Immigration , Patricia Fox , Black List Order , Jobert Pahilga , Dana Mengote-Sandoval , Commission on Human Rights
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