MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday he ordered the arrest of a 71-year-old Australian nun for “disorderly conduct,” justifying it as a legal move against “undesirable” foreigners.
Sister Patricia Fox, a coordinator of a Philippine congregation of Catholic nuns called Notre Dame de Sion, was taken from her house this week and detained at the immigration bureau in Manila for almost 24 hours.
She was released on Tuesday pending further investigation.
Fox had taken part in rallies seeking the release of political prisoners and urging Philippine authorities to respect human rights.
“I ordered her to be investigated, not deported at once, not arrested, but to invite her to an investigation for a disorderly conduct,” Duterte said during the change of command ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Duterte said he would be insulted by religious personalities and foreigners.
“It’s a violation of sovereignty,” he said, accusing Fox of badmouthing his administration. “You do not have that right to criticize us. Do not insult my country.
“We never did that to Australia. We never did that to (a) European country.
Why don’t you criticize your own government, the way you handle the refugees, hungry and dying and you turn them back to the open sea,” he said.
The UN has called on Australia to take responsibility for around 800 refugees and asylum seekers stranded in a detention center on Papua New Guinea where it said many lack medical and mental health care.
Australia, which controversially holds asylum-seekers in offshore camps, has said the center on the island is adequate and that the Papua New Guinea government is responsible for running it.