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Bam reiterates call for permanent residency for missionaries.

Sen. Paolo Benigno 'Bam' Aquino IV on Thursday reiterated his call for the passage of his measure seeking to give permanent residency to foreign religious workers and missionaries, following the order to an Australian nun to leave the country in 30 days over supposed engagement in local partisan activities.

Sen. Leila De Lima meanwhile slammed the Bureau of Immigration's cancellation of the missionary visa of Patricia Fox, 71, and order for her to leave the country after she was alleged to have joined political rallies.

In filing Senate Bill 702, or the Permanent Residency to Qualified Religious Workers Act, Aquino recognized the work done by these individuals to promote the welfare the poor and vulnerable in the country.

'Foreign religious workers like Sister Fox are partners for change. Many of them are fighting for the rights and welfare of the poor through outreach work and social missions,' Aquino said.

The proposed law, filed in July 2016, seeks to amend Commonwealth Act 163 or the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 to relieve religious missionaries of burdensome requirements and procedure to stay in the Philippines and perform their vocation.

He added that it is meant to assist religious workers who have dedicated long years in their missionary work and vocation in the Philippines.

Aquino said that foreign religious workers sacrifice a lot, including leaving the comfort of their homes and their families, just to serve Filipinos.

'These are devoted individuals who intend to live the rest of their lives serving the Filipino people,' Aquino emphasized.

The Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday forfeited the missionary visa of Fox, an advocate of land reform and peasant rights who has been living in the country for almost three decades now.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that Fox violated the terms and conditions of her visa by joining political activities.

The Palace defended the decision of Immigration to revoke the missionary visa of Fox, saying that the matter went through the proper procedure.

Despite this, Fox vowed to continue helping the marginalized and her missionary work.

De Lima meanwhile said that the impending ouster of Fox showed that the rule of law in the Philippines 'bows to the will of a tyrant.'

She added that this showed how the administration was 'insulating' the Philippines from the outside world especially those who cared for Filipinos.

'It clearly shows the bias of this administration against foreigners who defend human rights, and in favor of foreigners who care nothing for it,' she said in one of her written statements from Camp Crame where she is detained on drug-related charges she has claimed are trumped up.

'It is also clear that such an act is just another step towards ensuring the impunity with which this administration tramples on people's rights,' she added.

She urged the Filipino people to resist these efforts of the administration and defend individuals advocating for their rights.

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Date:Apr 26, 2018
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