MALACAÑANG released on Friday, April 20, photos of Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox participating in protest actions, belying the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) claim that the nun never spoke in rallies.
One of the photos presented by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. before Palace reporters showed the 71-year-old nun holding a microphone during the April 9 demonstration arranged by the Kilusang Mayuno Uno (KMU) and Gabriela party-list in Davao City.
"I heard the CBCP say that Sister Fox, although she attends rallies, has never spoken in rallies. Well, I now have a picture and this is taken April 9 in a rally organized by KMU and Gabriela party-list in front of Coca-Cola Davao City Distribution Center in Ulas, Davao City," he said.
"There you have it, Sister Fox speaking in the strike at Coca-Cola Davao City, Ulas, Davao City," the Palace official added.
In a statement Thursday, April 19, the CBCP rallied behind Fox, who it said had denied engaging in partisan political activities.
The CBCP also condemned the arrest and detention of the Australian nun last Monday, April 16, "without due process and respect for her fundamental rights."
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) detained Fox for supposed engagement in political activities and anti-government demonstrations. The bureau, however, ordered Tuesday, April 17 the nun's release since she holds valid visa.
On Wednesday, April 18, the President admitted that he ordered that Fox be investigated for supposedly badmouthing his government, while apparently ignoring the misdeeds in Australia.
But prior to Duterte's admission, Roque on the same day issued a conflicting remark when he said that "apologies are in order" for the alleged mistake done by the BI.
Roque insisted Thursday, April 19, that apology may be issued but not by Palace. He also stressed that Fox's arrest was not meant to impose sanctions against any foreign nationals who are critical of the government.
"Our law is clear: Those [who are] in the Philippines are here because of our consent for them to be here, but they are not allowed to engage in any political activity," he said Thursday. "There is no crackdown [on foreigners who are against the government]. That's just what the law provides." (SunStar Philippines)