MANILA – An Australian nun who had criticized President Rodrigo Duterte's policy, including his brutal drug war, was scheduled to fly home from the Philippines on Saturday, more than six months after the president ordered her arrest and deportation.
The nun's sister Patricia Fox, 71, who has been working in the Philippines for almost 30 years, had exhausted all legal means to fight her expulsion from the country. She attended her last Mass at the St. Joseph's Church in Manila before she went to the airport, accompanied by a trailer-driven motorcade.
"I will continue to seek justice for the victims and do everything to support people's struggle for a true peace based on justice," said Sister Fox.
She added that she did not harm Mr. Duterte, but wished that he would consider the plight of the "poor and small people, not just the military and business people."
Sister Fox has long been involved in political and social affairs in the Philippines. Since Mr. Duterte's inauguration in 2016, she has repeatedly argued against his drug war, in which thousands of mostly poor Filipinos were killed by police or police
Mr. Duterte cited this criticism in April when he said he ordered the Bureau of Immigration to arrest and deport the nun. "You are a foreigner, who are you?" He said. "You have no right to criticize us. Do not insult us every time you open your mouth. "
Sister Fox, who spent one night in prison before being released, later received deportation from the deportation when the Department of Justice declared that the Immigration Bureau had exceeded its authority. Since then, however, the office has downgraded its mission visa to a temporary visa that should expire on Saturday.
"You can not force the government to give you a visa, so I decided to take my attorney elsewhere," Sister Fox said on Saturday.
The Duterte government has taken similar action against a number of foreign critics of President's policy. In August, the immigration bureau arrested 84-year-old Australian professor Gill Boehringer at Manila airport and banned him from entering the country because he had protested against Mr. Duterte.
Three foreign missionaries, including one American, They were arrested and deported in July after visiting the southern Philippines to investigate allegations of maltreatment by the army, including the killing of at least eight members of an indigenous community in Lake Sebu Province in December.
One of the nurses' lawyers, Katherine Panguban, said they would continue their case with the Immigration Bureau while the nun is in their native Melbourne. "This clearly shows that this government is intolerant of dissidents," Ms. Panguban said of the case.
Catholic church officials, who have great influence in the Philippines and have been active in opposition to Mr Duterte, said that Sister Fox's deportation is a "blow to the missionary spirit" of the Church.
"The government should have taken the moral rank to address the case of the embattled nun," said Father Jerome Secillano of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.
Mr. Duterte has often expressed contempt for the Church and joked about founding a self-founded religion. On Thursday, the holy of holies, he did so again during a visit to the northern Philippines.
"The Catholics are crazy. We do not even know these saints, who those fools are, those drunkards, "he said in a mixture of English and Tagalog.
"I'll give you a patron so you do not go astray," he said. "Get a picture of me. Put that in your altar. Saint Rodrigo. "