Australian nun Patricia Fox has vowed to continue fighting for people in need even after she leaves the Philippines, following a long battle against her deportation.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an investigation into Sister Patricia’s legal status as a missionary in April, accusing her of engaging in political interference.
The 72-year-old insisted she merely engaged in a fact-finding mission on the island of Mindanao, launching a protracted fight against her deportation and the refusal of immigration officials to reissue her visa.
This week, Sister Patricia’s time ran out, with her passport confiscated on Wednesday.
“I’m really very sad,” she told the ABC.
“We were really quite confident that we would get an extension … I think probably the President ordered [the Department of Justice] not to give an extension.”
She said she had to fight to have her own lawyers escort her to the airport.
“Immigration wanted to send intelligence agents to escort me to the airport … but we insisted – and our lawyers insisted – that they will take me,” she said.
Once she leaves, Sister Patricia believes she will be blacklisted from ever returning to the Philippines.
“I think that’s the hardest part,” she said.
“Even if they’d said 12 months [out of the country], but this is indefinite.”
Sister Patricia has spent almost 30 years advocating for justice for some of the Philippines’s most vulnerable people.
In her final hours on Philippine soil, she put off packing her bags so she could attend a rally for people who were killed under martial law.
She said she believed her fight would continue after she left, even suggesting her very public spat with the strongman President had inspired people to stand up to tyranny.
“I’ve been invited to [speak to] a lot of groups who see [my battle] as a symbol of defiance … that you don’t just bow down to the tyranny,” she said.