MANILA — The Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) has cancelled the missionary visa granted to Sister Patricia Fox and orders her to leave the country within 30 days.
BI said that this is not an attack against the faithful but a simple implementation of the law.
“The BI is tasked to implement the immigration laws, rules and regulations and we are duty bound to apply these regardless of race, colour or creed,” said BI spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang in an interview.
“It is applied uniformly and fairly so no religious persecution. And the violation committed is not religious in nature. It is a violation of immigration laws for engaging in activities that are apart from the missionary work,” she added.
Mangrobang explained that the order revoking the Sister Fox’ missionary visa and the deportation hearing are two different things.
“It is a different procedure. The issue here is whether or not the foreigner violated the terms and conditions of the visa. What we are looking at the deportation case is whether or not she is an undesirable alien, there are visa violations that could not be considered undesirable. That is the issue of undesirability is what is being determined in the deportation case. But as far as the visa forfeiture is concerned that is a separate proceeding. Totally separate,” Mangrobang said.
WATCH: Presscon of Sister Patricia Fox (Video credit: inquirer.net)
“She violated the terms and conditions of the visa. Example: if you are a missionary engaging in political activity is that part of missionary work? Definitely not because the regulation of the bureau limits that power,” she added.
Mangrobang advised that Fox has to apply to replace her missionary visa to tourist visa before she can leave for Australia next month.
“The visa forfeiture order indicates after she had left. She, nor her representative could coordinate with the special prosecutor in compliance with the BI order which is to downgrade her visa. She will be able to get her passport, definitely,”Mangrobang said.
“When her visa was forfeited the directive was for her to downgrade. You need to secure a visa to depart, you cannot depart without a status,” she further added.
She reiterated that government has the right to revoke the privilege granted to a foreigner if it feels that visitor is not entitled to that benefit.
“We have to emphasise this is a privilege granted by the host government, so anytime that the host government feels that you are not entitled to the privilege then they could take it back,” Mangrobang said.
The BI spokesperson also said Fox’s camp is free to exhaust all legal remedies on the matter. (Source: Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)