Philippines: Duterte Takes Responsibility for Australian Nun’s Detention

Karl Romano
180418-PH-rally-620final.jpg A man joins a protest in Manila against President Rodrigo Duterte on the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late Ferdinand Marcos, Sept. 21, 2017.
Karl Romano/BenarNews

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday took responsibility for the daylong detention of an Australian nun active in protest circles, saying foreigners had no right to interfere in domestic issues.

The Bureau of Immigration on Tuesday freed Sister Patricia Fox, 71, after holding her for a day. The nun, who belongs to the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, was reportedly held for being an undesirable alien, but her colleagues said she was targeted for joining street protests against the government’s war on drugs.

“It was not the military who arrested this nun, the Catholic nun from Australia,” Duterte said in a speech at the turn-over ceremony for the military’s chain of command. “It was upon my orders implemented by the Bureau of Immigration. And I take full responsibility legal or otherwise for this incident.”

Duterte said Filipinos are entitled to criticize his government because “freedom of expression is unlimited.”

“You are a foreigner, who are you? You do not have the right to criticize us,” he said. “Do not insult us every time you open your mouth.”

He said Fox was released only because “was she was not caught while berating the government.”

Fox was the second foreigner subjected to strict Bureau of Immigration screening. A day before she was detained, Italian citizen Giacomo Filibeck, an official of the Party of European Socialists, was immediately deported after landing in the central city of Cebu. Filibeck apparently has been blacklisted by authorities for joining protests.

Fox has been in the Philippines doing charity work for more than two decades. Her lawyer said the Australian nun held a valid missionary visa and the case against her was pure harassment even as she agreed to cooperate with investigating authorities.

Duterte has faced mounting pressure from international and human rights groups questioning his crackdown on drug addicts and syndicates. Based on police figures, more than 4,000 drug addicts and traffickers have been killed, but rights groups said the number could top 10,000 when killings by pro-government vigilantes are included.


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