The Duterte government ordered the immediate expulsion from the Philippines of Otto Rudolf de Vries, a Roman Catholic missionary from the Netherlands, due to the missionary’s involvement in “illegal political activities”. De Vries has been given 30 days to leave the country. De Vries was informed of the order on 3 February 2021 when he went to the Bureau of Immigration to renew his visa.
The order stemmed from a 20 December 2019 letter of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency to the immigration bureau, alleging that de Vries was actively participating in protest rallies of “communist-terrorist front organizations”. He was also directed to submit his counter-affidavit on 23 January 2020, but de Vries opted not to do so.
The NICA stated that de Vries was seen in several political gatherings led by the Ecumenical Institute for Labor and Education Research (EILER) and the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU, May First Movement trade union center).
De Vries is a missionary from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. He arrived in the Philippines in May 1991 to work as a lay missionary upon the invitation of the late Bishop Julio Zavier Labayen of the Prelature of Infanta. He was to participate in the mission to live out the “Church of the Poor” and to immerse in the everyday lives of the workers.
For several years, he fulfilled his mission by working in Philippine factories. In recent years, he has worked as a volunteer researcher in EILER, an affiliate of the KMU trade union center. De Vries said his presence in protest actions and visits to workplaces are part of his work as an EILER researcher.
The Duterte government has been expelling foreign religious missionaries, accusing them of participating in “illegal political activities”, like joining fact-finding missions and protest actions.
United Methodist Church missionaries Adam Thomas Shaw of the USA, Tawanda Chandiwana of Mutare, Zimbabwe and Miracle Osman of Blantyre, Malawi, were all ordered expelled in July 2018 for their missionary work with the indigenous Lumad of Mindanao. In September 2018, Sr. Patricia Fox of Australia, regional superior of the Religious of Our Lady of Zion, was also forced to leave the country after her outspoken criticism of Duterte and his ‘war on drugs’.
Sr. Patricia had been staying in the Philippines for 30 years, working with the poor peasants and indigenous Lumad communities in Mindanao.
Protest actions, both in the Philippines and in the Netherlands, have been held to protest the deportation orders against Otto Rudolf de Vries.