Bureau of Immigration releases Australian nun Patricia Fox

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Philippine authorities detained an elderly Australian Catholic nun overnight in what civil rights groups alleged Tuesday was a crackdown on foreign critics of President Rodrigo Duterte's human rights record.

The Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) said she had participated in farmer protests in the past but had not been doing so at the time of her arrest.

Sister Fox's attorney Jobert Pahilga said the fiscal in charge of the inquest recommended Sister Fox be released once she was able to produce her passport, which she had given to a travel agency arranging her trip back to Australia next month, according to CBCP.

Fox, a missionary of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, joined an worldwide fact-finding mission in the southern Philippines this month to look into reported violations of the rights of farmers and indigenous people, Pahilga added. Her arrest was based on a mission order issued by Commissioner Jaime Morente.

Like Fox, the immigration bureau had accused Filibeck of violating laws barring foreigners from engaging in political activities.

Pahilga said in a statement that Fox "has done nothing wrong or illegal that would warrant her arrest, detention and possible deportation".

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Fox, mother superior of the Our Lady of Sion congregation in the Philippines, was arrested by six immigration authorities at their mission house in Quezon City at around 2 p.m. yesterday over allegations that she is an "undesirable alien". 15, 2017, "and that said visa is valid until September 9 this year".

"We condemn her unjust detention and the deportation proceedings initiated against her", Mr Reyes said.

Guevarra defended the government action, pointing out "it was unlawful for aliens staying in our country to engage in partisan political activities".

Fox was arrested a day after the BI barred from entering the country Party of European Socialists Deputy Secretary-General Giacomo Filibeck, also for being critical to the government.

The BI's move, which was supported by Malacañang and the Department of Justice, drew flak from the opposition, among them, the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives.

BI spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang said Fox, who is a known human rights advocate, was arrested pursuant to a mission order issued by BI Commissioner Jaime Morente. "She extended help to the Hacienda Luisita, Negros and Mindanao farm workers on their land cultivation campaign", they said. "Helping the poor is not a crime and joining peace activities to advocate peasant welfare and human rights is not against the law", the lawmakers said in a statement, calling for her immediate release.

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