Aussie nun who angered Duterte forced to leave Philippines

Australian nun Patricia Fox, who angered President Rodrigo Duterte, said she will leave rather than face certain arrest and deportation. (AFP)
Updated 03 November 2018
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Aussie nun who angered Duterte forced to leave Philippines

  • Sister Patricia Anne Fox is set to leave the Philippines on Saturday for Australia after immigration ordered her deported months ago
  • She said Duterte’s deadly anti-drug crackdown was “horribly barbaric”

MANILA: An Australian nun who angered the Philippine president by joining anti-government protestsiaspot used her final hours in the country Saturday to call on Filipinos to unite and fight human rights abuses.
Sister Patricia Anne Fox left the Philippines for Australia on Saturday night, immigration officials said. The Bureau of Immigration ordered her deported in July, put her on a blacklist and then downgraded her missionary visa to a temporary visitor’s visa, which expired Saturday.
President Rodrigo Duterte has bristled at criticism of his leadership, particularly by foreigners like Fox, who he says have no right to meddle in Philippine domestic affairs. Most of the criticism has focused on his bloody anti-drug campaign, which has left thousands dead, alarmed Western governments and rights groups and prompted two complaints of mass murder before the International Criminal Court.
During a farewell news conference in a Catholic school before leaving for the Manila airport with a convoy of supporters, the 71-year-old Fox called on Filipinos to speak up and help the marginalized fight to gain land, houses and jobs.
“The big challenge now is not to lose hope, to know that if we all move together, we can bring about change,” Fox said.
“Pope Francis said that if you’re a Christian and there’s massive human rights violations ... you should take action, make noise. Where the oppressed are, the church people should be there, not only always talking but with them and hopefully more vocal,” she said.
Fox told The Associated Press separately by phone that Duterte’s anti-drug crackdown was “horribly barbaric” and she vowed to return to the country if allowed to resume her 27 years of missionary work for the poor.
“I know a lot of mothers, wives who have lost someone. You have no right to take a life just like that without justice,” Fox said.
Dozens of activists, laborers, priests, nuns and tribal folk, some in tears, thanked Fox by celebrating a mass in her honor before sending her off to the airport. A lawyers group backing Fox, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said that by persecuting a frail and low-key missionary, Duterte has turned her into an “overnight rock star.”
Known for being soft-spoken, Fox is a coordinator of a Roman Catholic order of nuns and has worked for the poor in the Philippines. She promotes human rights and the welfare of workers, farmers and ethnic groups and has spoken against Duterte and his government, which has also been criticized for stifling dissent.
The immigration bureau said Fox violated her missionary visa by venturing far beyond her community in suburban Quezon city in metropolitan Manila and interfered in domestic politics by joining protests and news conferences that tackled “political and human rights issues against the government.”
Fox’s lawyers said she joined the marginalized as part of her missionary work and called the Duterte administration’s actions “political persecution.” They expressed fears that the move to evict Fox could undermine the crucial civic and religious work of foreign missionaries in the country.
Aside from Fox, the government has separately blocked a critical Italian politician, Giacomo Filibeck, and another Australian, Gill Hale Boehringer, from entering the Philippines this year.
“The law is clear: The entry and admission of an alien is a matter of privilege, and not a right,” Bureau of Immigration spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said Saturday.


UK prime minister in last-minute push to win Brexit support

A European flag and a British Union flag hang outside Europe House, the European Parliament's British offices in London, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP)
Updated 1 min 8 sec ago
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UK prime minister in last-minute push to win Brexit support

  • May aims to try a third time this week if she can persuade enough lawmakers to change their minds
  • May’s spokesman, James Slack, said Monday that the government would only hold a vote if there is “a realistic prospect of success”

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May was making a last-minute push Monday to win support for her European Union divorce deal, warning opponents that failure to approve it would mean a long — and possibly indefinite — delay to Brexit.
Parliament has rejected the agreement twice, but May aims to try a third time this week if she can persuade enough lawmakers to change their minds. Her aim is to have the deal agreed before EU leaders meet Thursday for a summit in Brussels.
But there was no sign of a breakthrough, and the government faces a deadline of the end of Tuesday to decide whether they have enough votes to pass the deal, so that a vote can be held on Wednesday.
May’s spokesman, James Slack, said Monday that the government would only hold a vote if there is “a realistic prospect of success.”
May is likely to ask for a delay to Brexit at the Brussels summit. If a deal is approved, she says she will ask the EU to extend the deadline until June 30 so that Parliament has time to approve the necessary legislation. If it isn’t, she will have to seek a longer extension that would mean Britain participating in May 23-26 elections for the European Parliament — something the government is keen to avoid.
May’s goal is to win over Northern Ireland’s small, power-brokering Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP’s 10 lawmakers prop up May’s Conservative government, and their support could influence pro-Brexit Conservatives to drop their opposition to the deal.
Still, May faces a struggle to reverse the huge margins of defeat for the agreement in Parliament. It was rejected by 230 votes in January and by 149 votes last week.
Influential Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said he would wait to see what the DUP decided before making up his mind on whether to support May’s deal.
“No deal is better than a bad deal, but a bad deal is better than remaining in the European Union,” he told LBC radio.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Monday he saw “cautious signs of encouragement” that the deal might make it through Parliament this week.
After months of political deadlock, British lawmakers voted last week to seek to postpone Brexit. That will likely avert a chaotic British withdrawal on the scheduled exit date of March 29 — although the power to approve or reject a Brexit extension lies with the EU, whose leaders are fed up with British prevarication.
EU leaders say they will only grant it if Britain has a solid plan for what to do with the extra time.
“We have to know what the British want: How long, what is the reason supposed to be, how it should go, what is actually the aim of the extension?” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels. “The longer it is delayed, the more difficult it will certainly be.”
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders agreed, saying: “We are not against an extension in Belgium, but the problem is — to do what?“
Opposition to May’s deal centers on a measure designed to ensure there is no hard border between the UK’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Brexit.
The mechanism, known as the backstop, is a safeguard that would keep the UK in a customs union with the EU until a permanent new trading relationship is in place. Brexit supporters in Britain fear the backstop could be used to bind the country to EU regulations indefinitely, and the DUP fears it could lead to a weakening of the bonds between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK
Talks between the government and the DUP are aimed at reassuring the party that Britain could not be trapped in the backstop indefinitely.
May said in an article for the Sunday Telegraph that failure to approve the deal meant “we will not leave the EU for many months, if ever.”
“The idea of the British people going to the polls to elect MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) three years after voting to leave the EU hardly bears thinking about,” she wrote.
But May suffered a setback Monday when former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson refused to support her deal.
Johnson, a staunch Brexiteer, used his column in the Daily Telegraph to argue that the backstop left the UK vulnerable to “an indefinite means of blackmail” by Brussels.