In this April 17, 2018, file photo, Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox gestures as she is interviewed by reporters after she was released from custody at the Bureau of Immigration in Manila, Philippines. Image Credit: AP

Manila: An effort by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to deport an Australian nun for engaging in partisan political activity in the Philippines was held off by the justice department on Monday.

The deportation of Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox will not push through Tuesday after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra overruled an April 25 order by Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente to deport the Catholic nun.

In his order, Morente has forfeited the Missionary Visa of Sister Patricia Fox and ordered her to leave the country.

But Guevarra, in an order issued June 18, overruled Morente’s directive.

The BI is an agency attached with the justice department.

“The Department of Justice has nullified the order issued by the Bureau of Immigrations, which forfeited the missionary visa of Sister Patricia Anne Fox and directed her to leave the country in 30 days,” Morente said.

One more month

The additional period of one month will allow the nun to seek other legal solutions to her impending deportation.

Guevarra said the forfeiture of the missionary visa forfeiture was “without legal basis,” since the immigrations cannot forfeit such travel document.

The justice secretary however said what the immigrations is allowed to do is “cancel” Sis. Patricia’s visa.

“Our existing immigration laws outlines what the Bureau of Immigration can do to foreigners and their papers — including visas — when they commit certain acts within Philippine territory,” he said.

“What the BI did in this case is beyond what the law provides, that is why it has to be struck down,” Guevarra said.

Nun detained

Sister Patricia was temporarily detained in late April after she allegedly participated in an antigovernment demonstration in Quezon City.

The nun has been staying in the Philippines for 27 years and had participated in religious work involving the poor and marginalised Filipinos.

In 2013, Dutch activist Thomas van Beersum was deported and banned from entering the Philippines after he took part in demonstrations carried out by left-wing groups against the government of then President Benigno Aquino III.