Australian missionary of Sisters of Sion arrested in Philippines

Giacomo Filibeck was barred from entering the Philippines on Sunday

Giacomo Filibeck was barred from entering the Philippines on Sunday

After detaining 71-year-old Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox overnight, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) ordered her release Tuesday, April 17.

The country's immigration commissioner, Jaime Morente, recommended Fox be released after it was confirmed she had a valid missionary visa.

It said Fox was issued a missionary visa on October 15 last year, which is valid until September 9 this year.

Under the BI rules, the lawyer further said that Fox should go through preliminary investigation "to determine if deportation charges should file against her before the bureau's board of commissioners".

Sister Patricia Fox was taken from her home and brought to the immigration bureau in Manila for questioning and could be deported. "She has been in the Philippines for nearly 27 years doing advocacy work for farmers", Fox's lawyer Jobert Pahilga told AFP.

The CBCP said on Tuesday Sister Fox had been arrested by six immigration officers at a mission house in Quezon City, northeast of Manila, about 2.15pm Monday (local time).

Her lawyer said she visited Tagum City to document reported human rights violations against farmers in Mindanao for a report intended for government agencies.

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Almost a day after she was apprehended, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it granted the release of 71-year-old Australian Catholic nun Sister Patricia Fox on Tuesday, April 17.

BI spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang said Fox, who is a known human rights advocate, was arrested pursuant to a mission order issued by BI Commissioner Jaime Morente. Activists and civil society are concerned that he is behind a crackdown on foreigners in the country after the arrest and release of nun Patricia Fox. Immigration agents supposedly claimed that they were just verifying her papers.

"This shows the worldwide community that the democratic space in the Philippines is shrinking. The objective of the IFFSM was to verify and document the reported rampant human rights violations against our farmers in Mindanao and submit the fact-finding report with recommendations to government agencies for appropriate action", Mr Pahilga said.

Philippines' Intelligence services (NICA) said they had a photos of her raising a clenched fist with the banner "Stop Killing Farmers" as well as wearing a Philippines agricultural union T-shirt.

It's unclear how long this will take. "Sister Pat should be immediately released without conditions", she added.

Manila Catholic Bishop Broderick Pabillo also condemned the detention. This is already happening without martial law.

"Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment".

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