The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday confirmed that Zimbabwean national Tawanda Chandiwana violated the country’s immigration laws for overstaying and engaging in political activities.
BI Spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval noted that Chandiwana, a United Methodist missionary, is currently detained at the BI Warden Facility in Bicutan, Taguig, and was also ordered to leave, being the subject of a government intelligence report for his alleged involvement in leftist-organized activities.
“Chandiwana was caught in flagrante, without a valid visa. His visa expired already when we receive intelligence information about him that he is an overstaying alien, hence the Mission Order (MO),” she said in a text message.
The foreigner was apprehended last May 9 in Toril, Davao, pursuant to the MO issued by Commissioner Jaime Morente.
“Upon inspection, it was confirmed that he is an overstaying alien as his missionary visa expired last April 6. He also admitted to have been working in the country since October 2016, but sought a visa only in 2017,” the BI official said.
Sandoval added Chandiwana was charged for deportation for overstaying, and will be deported pending the submission of his National Bureau of Invetsigation (NBI) clearance.
His name has already been included in the BI’s blacklist for overstaying, for engaging in missionary works without a visa, and for involvement in leftist-organized activities.
On the other hand, Sandoval revealed the status of two other members of the United Methodist Church, American Adam Thomas Shaw and Malawian Miracle Osman.
Shaw was also ordered to leave for engaging in missionary works without a visa, overstaying, and for involvement in leftist activities.
She added that Shaw was initially in the country since 2011, and admitted to have engaged in missionary works without a visa from 2011 to 2013. He was granted a missionary visa upon his return to the Philippines in 2017, which expired last April 26.
Meanwhile, Osman was included in the BI’s watchlist last March 12, and was ordered to leave last June 18.
But, Sandoval added that the foreigners were ordered to submit their requirements for the fulfillment of their order to leave, before they could depart the country.
They were subsequently included in the BI’s blacklist following reports on their involvement in leftist activities.
“Alien missionaries in the Philippines must be actually, directly, and exclusively engaged in religious work. They must not engage in any endeavor that is not consistent with their religious or missionary vocation,” she explained.
With this, the BI official clarified that there is no crackdown of foreign missionaries in the country, noting that based on their records, there are more than 500 missionary visa holders in the country.
“In fact, there are currently more than 500 lawful missionary visa holders in our records, and we welcome and appreciate their presence, as long as the visa is not abused for purposes of joining partisan political activities,” Sandoval added. (PNA)