President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday took full responsibility for the arrest of Australian missionary nun Patricia Fox, saying he ordered an investigation on her for supposed “disorderly conduct.”
“Let me just state my case as a worker of government. It was not the military who arrested the nun. It was upon my orders implemented by the Bureau of Immigration. And I take full responsibility legal or otherwise for this incident,” Duterte said during his speech during the Armed Forces of the Philippines change of command in Camp Aguinaldo.
“I ordered her to be investigated, not deported at once, not arrested, but to invite her to an investigation for a disorderly conduct. You know in our laws, the Philippine laws provide that I can deport you or refuse your entry if you are an undesirable alien," he added.
Duterte also served notice to leftist organizations that they should not to invite foreigners who are critical of the Philippine government, saying such unwanted visitors would be arrested if they entered the country secretly.
"Kayong mga left, do not ever, ever try to invite. I will not allow them in this country," Duterte said.
"And if they decide to enter surreptitiously, they will be arrested. But if you come here, just deliver your piece about human rights in the proper way," he added.
Duterte said that it was up to him—not Congress nor the Supreme Court—who would be allowed into the country and who would be allowed to leave.
"Beginning today, I will decide who gets in, who gets out. You want to question that, you go to court and I will follow. But until then, you do not mess up with the sovereignty of this country," Duterte said.
Sister Patricia Fox was arrested on Monday for allegedly joining political activities in the Philippines. She was apprehended pursuant to a mission order issued by Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.
The 71-year-old nun has been released on Tuesday for further investigation after authorities found she holds a valid missionary visa, making her a "properly documented alien."
Her arrest and detention was met with criticisms.
Senator Nancy Binay wondered how the 71-year-old nun could be a threat to society.
The Commission on Human Rights called on the Philippine government to observe the rule of law regarding Fox's case.
The nun's lawyer, Jobert Pahilga, said that the nun was in Region 9 as part of her "religious and missionary work to immerse and help farmers and indigenous people pursuant to the mission for peace, justice and promotion of human rights of her congregation."
He also confirmed that Fox visited farmer-detainees in Tagum City and striking Coca-Cola workers as part of a fact-finding mission, which was intended for the purpose of documenting alleged human rights violations against farmers and lumad in Mindanao.
According to a report, Fox's lawyer said their camp respected Duterte's authority to order an investigation.
The camp expressed confidence that evidence would show Fox wasn't involved in disorderly conduct and that there was no basis for her deportation.
Duterte said that he has been "enduring attacks [for] almost 40 years" but he could not accept that a foreigner would "insult and ridicule" him, adding that it is up for him to decide who enters and goes out of the country.
"I am with the Executive department. I am a worker of that department and I give that orders. And the order of who gets in and who goes out is with me. Not in Congress, not in the Supreme Court. Ako. Ako ang magsabi being head, being there in that office in Pasig (River)," he said.
"Papasukin mo 'yan at mabait na tao. Huwag mong papasukin kasi walang-hiya ang bunganga ng madreng 'yan. You do not have that right to criticize that. But you can come here enjoy all the sights. And even I could invite you to attend," he added.
The President also told Fox to criticize her own government, saying that she is "too presumptuous about looking at the Filipinos."
"Pero habang ako nandiyan, do not insult my country. Because you come here and go, akala ninyo...We never did that to Australia. We never did that European country. Ikaw madre, why don't you criticize your own government?," Duterte said.
"The way you handle the refugees hungry and dying and you turn them back to the open sea. And now you are getting rid of the natives there and refugees in an island. Bakit hindi ka magyakyak doon?" he added.
"May human rights violation kayo mas grabe. Eh buti dito kriminal ang pinapatay ko. Kayo?" he continued.
Duterte also told Fox that they do not share the same God.
"Do not give me that ke pari ka pati—we do not share the same God...You (sic) Gods or God are different from mine. You do not have any authority more than mine. My God has common sense. Your God does not have it," he said.
The arrest of Fox, said to be an agrarian reform and human rights advocate, came after the entry denial and eventual blacklisting of an Italian political party official for allegedly denouncing Duterte's anti-illegal campaign when he visited the country last year. — RSJ/NB/KG GMA News