A bishop, Iglesia Filipina Independiente’s (IFI) first-ever woman prelate, is being red-tagged in Ilocos Norte, along with three priests.
Bishop Emelyn Gasco-Dacuycuy and IFI priests Noel Dacuycuy, Randy Manicap and Arvin Mangrobang were accused by a shadowy group calling itself the Tagapagtanggol ng Bayan Laban sa Terorismo as New People’s Army (NPA) recruiters.
Posters and streamers bearing the victim’s pictures and alleging the priests and the bishop were NPA recruiters were found at the IFI Parish in Batac town Thursday morning, June 2.
The bishop also disclosed that more such flyers were distributed this morning at the IFI Cathedral in Laoag City and the Parish of Banna where she pastorally resides.
The posters ordered the priests to surrender at a police station to clear their names.
In a press conference Friday, Rev. Mangrobang said he does not need to have his name cleared again after already talking to the Vintar chief of police earlier.
Mangrobang revealed that a hand-painted streamer made from a rice sack had already been hung in Vintar last May 8 accusing him of being a NPA supporter.
“The new posters bearing our photos are worse. I have not even seen a NPA member,” Mangrobang said.
The priest said he only recruits sacristans to assist in the altar during Masses and to help in doing God’s work.
“They must know that I am a full-time priest and that I stay in the convent,” he added.
Rev. Dacuycuy for his part blamed President Rodrigo Duterte’ anti-terror law for the red-tagging activities against them.
“They insist that those who speak out in behalf of the people are automatically leftists or terrorists,” Dacuycuy explained.
In a statement Friday, Bishop Dacuycuy said she strongly condemns the “malicious accusations” and denied she ever recruited or is involved with the NPA.
The prelate said she met with Ilocos Norte police director Julius Sibaen Thursday who, she said, assured them of their security.
“Today, we will go to Batac PNP to file a blotter about the hanging of the tarpaulin at the gate of [the] Batac convent and scattered flyers bearing our faces with false accusation that happened yesterday morning,” Bishop Dacuycuy said.
Dacuycuy said her diocese is ready to hold a dialogue with government agencies and the military in the area.
Dacuycuy made history when she was consecrated IFI’s first woman bishop in May 5, 2017 whose diocesan see was the birthplace of IFI co-founder and first supreme bishop Gregorio Aglipay.
Ilocos Norte is also the home province of president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. whose family also dominated the local elections in the province earlier this month. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
(This report earlier mistakenly said the Rt. Rev. Dacuycuy was the country’s first-ever woman bishop. Two United Church of Christ in the Philippines woman bishops in fact preceded her.)