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BI confirms leave orders for 3 Methodist missionaries, but denies ‘crackdown’ on foreign religious workers

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 7/4/2018 Jimenez, Raffy
Bureau of Immigration default photo © Provided by GMA News Online Bureau of Immigration default photo

The Philippines has ordered the deportation of three foreign Methodist missionaries for their alleged involvement in “leftist activities,” the Bureau of Immigration (BI) confirmed Tuesday, but denied there is a “crackdown” on foreign religious workers.

Tawanda Chandiwana, a Zimbabwean; Adam Thomas Shaw, an American; and Miracle Osman, a Malawian, face deportation for engaging in prohibited “political activities,” bureau spokesperson Dana Sandoval said in a statement on Tuesday.

Their separate cases came to light on the heels of the reversed visa forfeiture of Patricia Fox, an Australian Catholic nun ordered investigated by President Rodrigo Duterte for “disorderly conduct.” The BI could still decide to deport her.

However, the BI said there was no “crackdown” on foreign missionaries.

“In fact, there are currently more than 500 lawful missionary visa holders in our records, and we welcome and appreciate their presence, as long as the visa is not abused for purposes of joining partisan political activities,” Sandoval said.

In the statement, Sandoval said Chandiwana is an overstaying foreigner found to have engaged in “political activities” that violated the terms of his missionary visa.

He was identified in a government intelligence report as having been involved in “leftist-organized activities,” a charge the missionary’s lawyer describes as participation in fact-finding missions.

Arrested in Toril, Davao in May 9, Chandiwana is detained at the BI Warden Facility in Bicutan, Taguig, pending his deportation, the statement said. His name has also been included in the bureau's blacklist, it added.

Methodist bishops from the United States have earlier called for the release of Chandiwana.

Meanwhile, Shaw, also allegedly overstaying and working without a visa, and Osman have likewise been blacklisted and ordered to leave the country for allegedly taking part in “leftist activities,” the statement said.

They have been directed to submit requirements to fulfill the order to leave before they could exit the country, the BI said.

Sandoval emphasized that foreigners are not allowed to join political activities in the Philippines. 

“Alien missionaries in the Philippines must be actually, directly, and exclusively engaged in religious work,” she said.  “They must not engage in any endeavor that is not consistent with their religious or missionary vocation.”

Fox’s lawyers, on the other hand, contend that the 71-year-old nun’s participation in pro-peasant public forums and fact-finding missions are protected by legal guarantees to free speech and expression and consistent with her missionary work. — RSJ, GMA News

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