MANILA - The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday denied that there is a government crackdown against foreigners who are critical of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration.
The denial came after the deportation of European Socialist Party official Giacomo Filibeck last Sunday, and the detention and possible deportation of Australian nun Patricia Fox on Monday.
The 71-year-old Sister Fox has been in the Philippines for 27 years, helping farmers, urban poor, and indigenous peoples. She recently joined human rights missions in Mindanao.
"She's been doing this for many years, how come this is only now?"asked Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who earlier visited Sister Fox in detention.
But lawyer Ma. Antonette Mangrobang, BI spokesperson, explained that the nun's arrest came only now because recent intelligence reports reveal her alleged engagement in political activities.
"We cannot assume it has been going on in the past but what I can say is that the mission order was issued based on intelligence agents' reports," she told ANC.
Citing a BI order, Mangrobang stressed that foreigners staying in the Philippines should observe the limitation on the exercise of their political rights. She said this has been done in previous administrations.
But Bishop Pabillo said the government's allegation is hazy, adding that authorities may be doing their own interpretation on what "political" means.
"This could be showing the sign of tendency that the government does not want any criticisms on their activities. They would not even mind detaining and targeting women, aged people," he said.