There were tears of relief and joy at Sr Patricia Fox’s home in Quezon City, the Philippines, after her successful appeal against the withdrawal of her missionary visa was announced yesterday. Source: The Guardian.
But the 71-year-old Australian sister remains under threat of deportation from the Philippines under a separate action that is still before the authorities and pending a decision.
The Department of Justice announced yesterday that the Bureau of Immigration had erred in cancelling Sr Patricia’s missionary visa on the grounds of her political activism.
Her visa is now valid until September, when it expires. She plans to apply for a renewal.
The decision came as a shock to Sr Patricia and her lawyers, who earlier in the day were making plans for the opposite result.
Sr Patricia said she was immensely relieved and “I nearly burst into tears. My fellow sisters are laughing and crying.” She said she would now unpack the bag that she has had awaiting a variety of possibilities, including jailing, deportation or “going to ground”.
Sr Patricia’s lawyer, Jobart Pahliga, said that the decision was a “huge” victory not only for the sister, but for the rule of law in the Philippines. He said the legal team was not yet dropping its guard, but was now optimistic that Sr Patricia would be able to stay at least until September.
He said that the decision would also affect another 15 similar cases where the Bureau of Immigration had withdrawn visas from foreign nationals because of political activism. Most of those people had already been deported.
“Without the outpouring of international support for Sr Patricia none of this would have happened.”
Sr Patricia, who has been a missionary in the Philippines for 28 years, was arrested on the personal order of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on on April 16 and threatened with deportation. Later, her missionary visa was cancelled by the Bureau of Immigration. It is this latter decision that has now been overturned. The deportation order has also been appealed, but no decision has been made.