Given 30 days to leave, Sister Fox says 'forever grateful' to Filipinos

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 25 2018 05:47 PM

MANILA - Australian nun Patricia Fox said on Wednesday she is still hoping that the Bureau of Immigration (BI) will reconsider its decision to cancel her visa. 

In a heartfelt statement, the 71-year-old missionary said she was surprised and saddened upon hearing the news that the Duterte administration has ordered her to leave the country in 30 days.

"I was surprised as I had thought the process was that I would have 10 days to put in a counter-affidavit to answer the charges," said Fox. 

"It was through the media that I heard of the decision as I or my legal counsel don’t yet have a copy. I am very sad that the decision, at present, is that I leave the Philippines," she added.

Fox also recalled her experience working with farmers, tribal groups and urban poor in her nearly 3 decades of stay in the Philippines, and the things she learned from them. 

The nun said she learned how lack of land ownership, illegal mining, and lack of job security have caused poverty among the Filipinos she has met. 

"It seems this is what has brought me into conflict with the Philippine government. I am still hoping for a chance to explain how I see my mission as a religious sister and maybe the decision can be reconsidered," she said. 

President Rodrigo Duterte said last week that he personally ordered Fox investigated for alleged "disorderly conduct" but did not order her arrest. 

The BI said it cancelled Fox's visa because she allegedly participated in political activities, which violates the terms of her stay in the country. 

Fox has repeatedly denied this, saying her missionary work requires her to be with the poor. The nun's lawyer, Jobert Pahilga, said they will question the immigration order. 

But whatever happens, Fox said she will be "forever grateful" to the Filipinos for the memories and the things she learned in her 27 years of stay in the country. 

"I may lose my right to be in the Philippines but I can never lose the learnings and beautiful memories," she said.