Australian nun and human rights campaigner Patricia Fox says she has mixed feelings about returning to Australia after being deported from the Philippines.
The 72-year-old landed on Sunday morning in Melbourne, where she was greeted by about 20 supporters.
The Philippines refused to renew Sister Fox’s missionary visa in September, after she angered President Rodrigo Duterte with her outspoken criticism of his violent crackdown on the drug trade.
President Duterte ordered an investigation into Sister Fox’s legal status as a missionary in April, accusing her of engaging in political interference.
She remained in the country for the past several weeks on a temporary visitor visa before her passport was confiscated on Wednesday.
She boarded a flight in Manila on Saturday night, marking the end of her 27 years as a Catholic missionary in the country.
Sister Fox said she felt “ambivalent” about returning to Australia.
“I hadn’t planned on coming home at this stage. I really thought they would extend the visa,” she said.
“I felt happy to be coming home because I have my family and friends in this community, but I was sad too – and especially after you’ve had such a lovely day with all these people who’ve said wonderful things about you – it was really hard leaving, too.”
Sister Fox has vowed to continue her work for some of the Philippines’ most vulnerable people, including its rural poor, and on Sunday she said she would like to see the Australian government applying more pressure on President Duterte over human rights.
“Working with the peasants, we heard a lot of stories about killings, people in jail for trumped-up charges, torture,” she said.
She also called for the Australian government to take action on Australian resource companies whose projects she said were displacing tribal people.
“They should look start looking at Australian companies, particularly mining companies, because they’re hiring goons and … you know we have to start being responsible for what’s happening over there,” she said.
Sister Fox’s brother Kevin said it was “terrific” to have his sister home.
“It’s been harrowing,” he said.
“Pat gives us information, but it’s not the same as when you see someone, so it’s great to see her.
“Hopefully she can rest up, gather her strength and move on with her life.”
Sister Fox said she hoped to return to the Philippines one day but that would not be possible while President Duterte remained in power.