Sister Pat should stay with the Filipino people

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines denounces the decision of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to deny the appeal of Sr. Patricia “Pat” Fox to revoke her missionary visa. We denounce the apparent persecution and harassment of church people who advocate for human rights, like Sr. Pat. She is being punished for what her faith tells her to do, and that is to be in solidarity with the least of our sisters and brothers.

Sr. Pat, a known member of the ecumenical movement and a staunch human rights advocate, has loved and served the Filipino people for 27 years. She is known to accompany poor peasants and indigenous peoples in their legitimate demand for their rights to basic services, to land and other resources. Sr. Pat has lived her life consistent with the Christian teaching of loving your neighbor, combining acts of mercy and justice, and living out her prophetic ministry. Her mission in upholding God’s gift of human dignity is worth emulating. When the image of God is being trampled upon by those in power, the Christian duty is always to follow God’s revelation to “speak up for the rights of all those in destitute, and defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31: 8–9).

We believe that the decision of the BI on her appeal is akin to a witch hunt that shows that the current administration will stop at nothing to silence its critics, and is an “admission of guilt by this government, which threatens and persecutes human rights advocates who witness the suffering of and show solidarity with the vulnerable.” (Stop harassing church workers, April 20, 2018)

We demand that Sr. Pat be afforded the right to stay in the Philippines with the people who she has grown to love and who love her back. We call on the administration of President Duterte to exercise power in accordance with the rule of law and comprehensively follow legitimate procedures to ensure that Sr. Pat’s basic rights be observed and upheld. On the recent development of her appeal to the DOJ, we hope that the BI will listen to her and uphold her missionary visa. We call on our member churches and other faith communities to continue to announce and denounce the persecution and harassment of human rights defenders and advocates.

Signed:

BISHOP RODOLFO A. JUAN
Vice-Chairperson

REV. DR. MS. SHARON ROSE JOY RUIZ-DUREMDES
Vice-Chairperson

MS. LISSA BELLE R. BROWN
Vice-Chairperson

MR. REYNALDO M. NATIVIDAD
Corporate Treasurer

REV. DR. REX RB REYES, JR.
General Secretary

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