MANILA - Opposition leader and Senator Francis Pangilinan raised concern Tuesday over an alleged "emerging crackdown" against foreign activists.
Immigration officials on Monday detained Sister Patricia Fox, a 71-year-old Australian nun, for "illegal political activities" after she took part in a human rights fact-finding mission in the troubled south.
Her detention came a day after Giacomo Filibeck, an Italian official of the European Union's Socialist Party, was barred from attending a local conference and deported for being on the immigration blacklist.
"The emerging trend on crackdown against foreign activists in the country is alarming as exhibited by the harassment and casual arrests of the two human rights advocates, who were not even in protest activities or rallies when taken into custody," Pangilinan said in a statement.
"These incidents will trigger more questions on what the government is trying to conceal," added the senator, who heads the once-ruling Liberal Party.
Fox, who has been living in the Philippines for 27 years, was allowed to walk free on Tuesday but will undergo “further investigation,” the Bureau of Immigration said.
Fox is the superior of the Notre Dame de Sion in the Philippines, a congregation of Catholic nuns.
She had been involved with human rights missions in Mindanao, looking into the plight of indigenous people and farmers, left-wing lawmakers said, almost a year after President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law on the southern island of Mindanao.
Filibeck, meanwhile, had denounced killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war in his 2017 Manila visit.