Immigration apprehends, detains Australian land reform advocate
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration has confirmed that an Australian land reform advocate is in its custody shortly after a farmers’ group condemned her supposedly illegal detention.
Immigration spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang, in a text message to Philstar.com, said that Patricia “Sister Pat” Fox has been detained following the mission order issued by Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.
“The apprehending officers are still in the process of completing their reports, documentation and affidavit of arrest,” Mangrobang said, adding that they will release an official statement on the matter once they receive the report.
Fox, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said, has been in the Philippines for more than a decade. “She came to the country as a lay missionary of the Congregacion de Notre Dame de Sion (Congregation of Our Lady of Sion), a Roman Catholic religious [congregation],” the group said.
Aside from being a lay missionary, the Australian also supports causes for farmers rights and welfare, and rights of Lumad.
Fox ‘invited’ to Immigration office
In a statement, the KMP slammed the BI’s detention of Fox, a human rights advocate and a member of Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and Pagkakaisa para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo.
According to the group, agents from the Bureau of Immigration “visited” Fox’s house in Quezon City on the afternoon of April 16. She was later “invited” to the bureau’s office for a check on her status.
The advocate has since been detained, and is being threatened “because of her activities in the Philippines and for joining rallies,” the group added.
Fox recently joined the International Fact Finding and Solidarity Mission (IFFSM) in Southern Mindanao that called for a probe into the killings and human rights violations against farmers.
— Philstar.com (@PhilstarNews) April 16, 2018
Antonio Flores, secretary-general of KMP, branded Fox’s detention as “clear harassment.”
“We condemn this crackdown on peasant activists. Under Duterte, wholesale and unabated arrest of farmers, peasant leaders and land reform advocates continue,” Flores said. He added Fox’s detention is a “clear retaliation of the government” over the IFFSM’s findings.
The IFFSM in their April report cited that there are at least 54 cases of human rights violations in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental in the first three months of 2018.
On Sunday, the Immigration bureau barred Giacomo Filibeck, an official of the Party of European Socialist, from entering the country.
Immigration Commissioner Morente said that Filibeck violated the country’s law for tourists. He stressed Filibeck “was not supposed to do that (join partisan activities) because, being a tourist, he does not enjoy the rights and privileges of a Philippine citizen, particularly the exercise of political rights which are exclusively reserved to Filipinos.”
The Immigration bureau also cited the case of Dutch activist Thomas Van Beersum who was deported in August 2013 for participating in in a rally against former President Benigno Aquino III during his State of the Nation Address.
The Dutch activist was photographed yelling at a weeping police officer who was stationed at the rally.
Both Filibeck and Beersum are placed in the Immigration blacklist.