Statement of the CHR on the detention and release of Australian missionary Patricia Fox

Statement of the CHR on the detention and release of Australian missionary Patricia Fox

Press Statement | 19 April 2018

It is the mandate of the government to protect and promote the human rights of all persons in the Philippines, including foreign nationals. This includes ensuring that everyone, like in the case of the Australian religious missionary Patricia Fox, is granted due process while we assert our national laws.

In the same manner that we expect foreign countries to respect and uphold the rights of Filipinos abroad, we must accord foreign nationals in our country the same respect and courtesy as human beings who have inherent rights and freedoms. Inasmuch as we have our national identity, we are part of the bigger humanity in the international community. We are all equal in rights and dignity as human beings.

The core principle is that fundamental human rights by their nature pertain to all persons. Serving the poor and disadvantaged communities by demanding justice through activism is not a crime. Foreign nationals have the right to join peaceful assemblies.

Sister Patricia was arrested without basis. Belatedly, it was determined that she is a properly documented foreigner with a valid missionary visa, which led to her release. Evidently, her arrest was invalid and Malacañang has acknowledged that there has been a mistake. It is hoped that such an incident, which impacts basic rights and erodes dignity of those affected, will not be repeated.

We urge the government to follow proper procedures and protocols to ensure rule of law. This kind of incident is a dangerous precedent for foreign human rights workers. Framing their work as “interference” without concrete basis may discourage foreign nationals from doing important missionary and humanitarian work in our country. ■