SISTER Patricia Fox will leave for Australia in May for a congregational meeting but will return to the Philippines in June to continue her work “if things go well.”
“I already booked to go back for congregational meeting and holiday in May but I have also booked to come back in June. I plan to stay here and continue our mission,” she told The Manila Times in an interview on Friday.
Fox said the plan to return to Australia was set long before her arrest and temporary detention by Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials on Monday.
Fox added that “she did not know where [President Rodrigo Duterte] was coming from” after he criticized her “for disorderly conduct” and admitted that he was behind her arrest.
“You do not have the right to criticize us. But you can come here and enjoy all the sites, but while I am here, you do not insult my country,” Duterte addressed Fox in a speech.
“To be honest, I did not think I was that important. I was a bit sad because I have been here for a long time in the Philippines. I was a bit sad to hear some of it, and I was not sure where he was coming from so I was surprised,” Fox said.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) started its own investigation to help Fox after she appealed for due process.
“The CHR had already conducted a motu propio investigation of Fox’s case. One of the allegations here is that there is no basis for her arrest and detention but we will look at the procedures whether human rights standards have been violated,” CHR spokesperson Jackielyn de Guia told reporters.
De Guia said the commission was mandated to ensure that all human rights of Filipinos and even foreign nationals in the country were guaranteed.
“We have to remember that the right to assembly is a right to any person. As long as it is in a peaceful rally and it does not violate certain laws, joining rallies per se is not a crime. We just have to see whether they are engaged in certain acts that violate the government. It is important that they abide to our laws as well,” De Guia said.
Fox, 71, was arrested on Monday afternoon “for attending protest rallies” and was released on Tuesday.
Rights groups protested Fox’s arrest and said that it highlighted “the adverse impact and repressive features” of Operations Order SBM 2015-025, an order banning foreigners in engaging in political activities in the Philippines.