MANILA - Malacañang on Monday slammed Australian nun Patricia Fox for claiming that there is a “reign of tyranny” in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Fox’s remark “is a classic case of an inappreciative tourist who saw nothing good and complained about the country which graciously extended its hospitality.”
“There is no reign of terror and tyranny in the Philippines. There is only a reign of fear in the minds and hearts of those who violated the law. They are terrified that the law is finally running after them. What we have is a reign of strict enforcement of the laws,” Panelo said in a statement.
"The Administration continues to adhere to the rule of law. The President follows the command of the Constitution for him to enforce the laws of the land regardless of who is involved. Let no person, therefore, take lightly the President's duty to serve and protect the people."
Fox, who spent almost three decades working with Philippine laborers, farmers and urban poor, left the country over the weekend after losing a battle to stay here.
She was accused of illegally engaging in political activism as Duterte's government cracked down on foreign critics on its soil.
The 71-year-old apparently angered Duterte by joining a fact-finding mission in April to investigate alleged abuses against farmers, including killings and evictions by soldiers fighting guerrillas in the southern Philippines.
Welcomed by supporters at Melbourne airport, Fox told reporters she was happy to be home but had found it hard to leave.
"At present, the Philippines, the human rights abuses are just increasing and it is a reign of tyranny at present," Fox said.
"There has been a culture of impunity for a long time and it is getting worse."
Fox had been arrested briefly on charges of violating her visa's terms against activism in the Philippines and the slow turning wheels of the country's bureaucracy began moving to strip her of her papers.
Immigration authorities last week refused to extend her tourist visa and ordered the 71-year-old out by Saturday.
She decided to return to Australia rather than risk being forcibly removed.
Church figures have previously criticized Duterte's policies, particularly his signature war on drugs that has left almost 5,000 people dead since he took office in 2016.
Human rights groups charge that the actual death toll is about five times that total. - with AFP