The Philippines has expelled two foreign Methodist missionaries for violating their visas and for allegedly engaging in political activities in the country, a church leader said Thursday.
Tawanda Chandiwana of Zimbabwe was freed from jail early Thursday and went straight to the airport to catch a flight home, said Thomas Kemper, the head of Global Ministries, an agency of the United Methodist Church that is in charge of its missions program.
Chandiwana left the Philippines a day after the departure of Adam Shaw, an American missionary from Ohio.
“I just saw him off at the airport. He is in immigration now accompanied by Bureau of Immigration,” Kemper said, referring to Chandiwana. “[A] Manila bishop with [the] delegation from United Methodist met him in [the] detention center and accompanied him to the airport.”
Chandiwana boarded a Malaysia Airlines flight in Manila, and he was traveling to Zimbabwe via Ethiopia, Kemper added.
He was in detention since May after Philippine authorities said they discovered his visa had expired. A third missionary, Miracle Osman of Malawi remains in the Philippines and is being monitored by immigration authorities who seized her passport.
On Tuesday, officials with the Bureau of Immigration (BI), citing visa violations and engagement in “political activities,” said the three church workers were ordered to leave the country.
Shaw was allowed to return to the United States on Wednesday, and was said to be with his family, according to Kemper.
The three missionaries came to the attention of Philippine authorities in February after they visited the southern Philippines, which remains under martial law as the government fights Islamic militants.
The three were taking part in a church mission to investigate alleged human rights abuses in the south. The church said the three were checking on local residents of the Lake Sebu area, where government forces were alleged to have slain communist rebels in battles in December last year.
In April, immigration agents detained Sister Patricia Fox, 71, a Catholic nun from Australia, for allegedly violating terms of her religious visa. She was found to have engaged in activities that apparently offended President Rodrigo Duterte, including attending rallies that questioned his administration’s war on drugs that has left thousands dead.
Jacqueline Ann De Guia, a spokeswoman for the independent Commission on Human Rights, called on the government to respect the rights of foreign nationals undertaking humanitarian work in the Philippines.
“We remind the government that even foreign nationals in the Philippines are entitled to their human rights,” she said in a statement Wednesday, adding this included the “right to due process.”