The Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration has denied the appeal of a Dutch Catholic missionary and has ordered him to leave the country in 60 days.
The bureau said there is “substantial evidence” to support its previous decision to cancel the permanent resident visa of Catholic lay missionary Otto Rudolf De Vries.
De Vries, a 62-year-old church worker from The Netherlands, has been ordered out of the country for reportedly joining anti-government demonstrations.
The Immigration bureau presented at least four photographs showing De Vries “illegally engaged and interfered” in political activities.
Authorities said the missionary has been “providing support/assistance” for front organizations of communist-terrorist groups in the country.
De Vries received the letter denying his “Motion for Reconsideration” on March 6.
The Immigration bureau’s order stemmed from a letter dated Dec. 10, 2019, from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, which reported De Vries’ alleged illegal activities.
Rochelle Porras, executive director of the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, said the bureau was “swift to blindly accept” the intelligence agency’s “preposterous report.”
The missionary has been working a volunteer for the institute for years.
Porras said the missionary was “only fulfilling his duties” as a church worker whose apostolate is with poor workers.
“What do we make of a government agency that all too quickly drives away foreign missionaries, but fails to recognize their decades of service to the Filipino people?” she said.
Porras said De Vries’ presence in various gatherings was part of his research work on the country’s labor condition.
De Vries arrived in the Philippines on May 11, 1991, to work as a lay missionary upon the request of the late Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen of the Prelature of Infanta.
The missionary said Bishop Labayen’s appeal to live out the “Church of the Poor” inspired him to immerse in the “everyday reality of the workers.”
The immigration bureau said it would start the deportation proceedings if De Vries fails to comply with the order.