Sunday, November 4, 2018

Panelo to Sister Fox: "Follow the law. Otherwise, the law of cause and effect will operate against you"



 Chief Presidential Legal Counsel  Salvador Panelo |  Australian missionary Patricia Fox | Photo from ABS-CBN

"Our advice to Sister Fox is to follow the law whether here or elsewhere. Otherwise, the law of cause and effect will operate against her, as it did in this particular instance."

This was the message of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo following the departure of Australian missionary Patricia Fox over the weekend after the Bureau of Immigration (BI) ordered her to leave.

Limited Rights

In a statement of Panelo, he said that Fox's departure from the country after the BI authorities has ordered her deportation indicates that foreigners while staying in the country have limited rights and privileges.


"The departure of Sister Patricia Fox is a timely reminder to all foreigners who stay or sojourn in this country that they are not entitled to all the rights and privileges granted to the citizens of the Philippines."

"Including the absolute exercise of political rights inherently exclusive to Filipino citizens, as spelled out in Operations Order No. SBM 2015-025 issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), approved by then Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima." Panelo stressed out.

Australian missionary Patricia Fox | Photo from Rappler

Goodbye, Philippines!

Fox left the country on Saturday after the authorities from BI rejected her application for the extension of her temporary visitor's visa and was ordered to leave the country.

Violation of the Conditions.

The order denying the extension of Fox's visitor's visa cited the Board of Comissioners' previous resolution finding a significant evidence that Fox was present and had actively participated in political activities prompted them to deport Fox.

While Fox has admitted her participation in fact-finding missions to probe reported rights abuses committed by state forces against farmers in Mindanao but maintains that her activities were within the scope of her missionary work.

Photo shows of Australian nun speaking at rally | Photo from GMA
But Panelo maintained that Fox suffered her fate because of participating in political rallies, a violation of the conditions of her stay.


"Undeniable is the fact that Sister Fox joined protest rallies. She has publicly acknowledged that joining these activities is part of her advocacy. Her participation therefore violated the conditions of her stay thereby mocking our laws, and abusing the hospitality extended to her by the host country." Panelo said.

Due process of Law.

Panelo also denied that Australian missionary suffered from any injustice because of the government authorities compelled her to leave and said Fox was given a due process of law.

"To say that Sister Fox is “compelled to leave under strong protest” is, therefore, misleading as it is erroneous. Neither is there “injustice” nor “silencing or threatening anyone from exercising the freedom of expression.” Freedom of expression remains unbridled in this part of the world." he said.

"Sister Fox was given due process of law. She underwent a legal process where she was given the opportunity to be heard. She availed of all remedies that she may stay in the Philippines but the BI upheld the law and denied the request for the extension of her visa, which is set to expire tomorrow, November 4." Panelo added.

Thank you, Sister Fox.

Panelo thanked Fox for the good things she was able to do during her stay in the country. However, he maintained that everyone has to follow the law.

Fox was arrested in April this year from a mission house in Quezon City for participating in protest rallies.

President Duterte slammed Fox and several Church leaders who have been critical against his administration and said that while every Filipino was entitled to criticize him because they were paying his salary, foreigners like Sister Fox do not have the same right.


Salvador Panelo's full statement reads:

On Sister Patricia Fox 

The departure of Sister Patricia Fox is a timely reminder to all foreigners who stay or sojourn in this country that they are not entitled to all the rights and privileges granted to the citizens of the Philippines, including the absolute exercise of political rights inherently exclusive to Filipino citizens, as spelled out in Operations Order No. SBM 2015-025 issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), approved by then Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima. 

Undeniable is the fact that Sister Fox joined protest rallies. She has publicly acknowledged that joining these activities is part of her advocacy. Her participation therefore violated the conditions of her stay thereby mocking our laws, and abusing the hospitality extended to her by the host country.

To say that Sister Fox is “compelled to leave under strong protest” is, therefore, misleading as it is erroneous. Neither is there “injustice” nor “silencing or threatening anyone from exercising the freedom of expression.” Freedom of expression remains unbridled in this part of the world.

Sister Fox was given due process of law. She underwent a legal process where she was given the opportunity to be heard. She availed of all remedies that she may stay in the Philippines but the BI upheld the law and denied the request for the extension of her visa, which is set to expire tomorrow, November 4.

We wish Sister Fox well in her travel and we thank her for whatever good deeds she has performed during her stay in the country. Such acts however cannot exempt her from the punishment imposed by law as a consequence of her wrongdoing. Dura lex sed lex. The law may be harsh but it is the law and obedience thereto excuses no one from compliance therewith. 

Our advice to Sister Fox is to follow the law whether here or elsewhere. Otherwise, the law of cause and effect will operate against her, as it did in this particular instance.

Salvador S. Panelo 
Presidential Spokesperson & Chief Presidential Legal Counsel

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Source: Manila Bulletin | Secretary Salvador Panelo Facebook