Who is Sister Patricia Fox and why is Duterte mad at her?

April 19, 2018 - 3:57 PM
Sister Patricia Fox following her release(Philstar.com photo by Miguel de Guzman)

Australian missionary Patricia Fox has been on the headlines since she was detained by the Bureau of Immigration upon orders of President Duterte for having a “foul mouth” and alleged “disorderly conduct.”

READ: Duterte: ‘I ordered Australian nun’s probe’

What exactly has the 71-year-old nun done during the 27 years she has been in the Philippines to incur the wrath of the administration?

After she was apprehended by BI authorities, Church officials, leftist figures, and opposition politicians quickly defend Fox and condemned her detention.

Manila auxiliary bishop Broderick Pabillo was also among those who defended Fox’s presence in the country, saying she was in the Philippines to do humanitarian work for the labor sector.

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Senator Nancy Binay questioned Fox’s detention in a statement posted on her Facebook page.

Not spared from Duterte’s wrath

President Rodrigo Duterte admitted he gave the order to detain Fox, but qualified that his directive was only to have Fox investigated.

His qualified apology also came with strong words for the missionary.

“You come here and insult us, you trample with our sovereignty. That will never happen,” said Duterte, in reference to Fox at an AFP change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo Wednesday.

He also said that Fox had “a foul mouth” and had no right to criticize him, despite offering no instance of the nun verbally insulting him or his administration.

Just a few days before Fox’s detention, Italian activist Giacomo Filibeck was held and deported after arriving in the Mactan-Cebu International Airport on grounds that he was engaging in “partisan political activity.”

Filibeck, an official of the Party of European Socialists, was invited by Akbayan party-list to attend its congress in Cebu City.

“It is unlawful for aliens staying in our country to engage in partisan political activities, and the government has the right to refuse entry to those who have committed these illegal acts in the past,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told the media.

Known Duterte supporter RJ Nieto through Thinking Pinoy blog posted an infographic claiming that Fox had been arrested during the Aquino administration.

The report on UCAnews details how Fox was part of a group helping farmers in Hacienda Luisita charged with illegal assembly, direct assault, trespass and malicious mischief.

Back to work and advocacy

Though Fox has been released for further investigation, the Palace has also gone on the record to admit that detaining the 71-year old may have been a mistake.

After a few media appearances, Fox apparently has returned to her work in the public interest and human rights sector.

Fox, mother superior of the Our Lady of Sion congregation in the Philippines, has been in the country for 27 years, has worked mostly with the urban poor, indigenous peoples, and farmers.

At the time of her arrest, she had just joined an international fact-finding and solidarity mission investigating alleged rights abuses in Mindanao.

According to a report by Newsweek, Fox had joined protests against the killing of farmers in Mindanao.

According to the National Intelligence Coordination Agency, she had allegedly been photographed raising a fist and wearing a “Stop Killing Farmers” t-shirt at a rally. Her lawyers have denied these claims.

Fox’s supporters, who claim to have seen her work, question where the allegations against her came from.

Others also related how Fox had reached out to different parts of the country in the Australian native’s more than twenty years in the Philippines.