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CDO journalists, priest, lawyers red-tagged anew; bounty on journalist ‘first-ever’

Two journalists in Mindanao were again red-tagged, one threatened with death with a P1 million bounty on his head.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Leonardo Vicente “Cong” Corrales, associate editor of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, was again named in a new anonymous red-tagging material, along with respected veteran journalist Froilan Gallardo of Mindanews and several other Cagayan de Oro personalities and organizations.

“On Wednesday, August 28, we were informed that new anonymous red tagging material against several personalities in Cagayan de Oro, similar to the earlier flyers and banners, had been received, this time from a courier service, by Iglesia Filipina Independiente priest Fr. Rolando Abejo and a city hall employee who had also been red tagged earlier,” the NUJP said in a statement.

Part of the red-tagging material targeting Corrales.

Corrales had repeatedly been included in red-tagging materials distributed around Cagayan de Oro this year, accusing the former NUJP director of membership or links to the communist armed movement.

The red-tagging also previously included his wife and son.

A flyer from a “Black Mamba,” purportedly of the “MAT-NMR Press Club Chapter,” claims there is a P1 million bounty for the death of Cong.

The alleged bounty on Corrales may be the first on a journalist, NUJP sources said.

The courier packet that contained the flyer targeting Corrales identified the sender as Danilo Tirso Mantangan of Sitio Camansi, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental with mobile phone number 09091020123.

The packet received by a Cagayan de Oro City Hall employee Evelyn Naguio, who was earlier red-tagged herself, on August 28.

The flyer intended for Fr. Abejo also included a list of organizations and personalities supposedly linked to the rebels. Gallardo was included in this list.

The materials received by Fr. Abejo also named human rights lawyer Beverly Musni and her daughter and colleague Czarina.

Asked by the NUJP what he could have done to earn so much hatred as to seek his death, Cong said the only reason he knows is a column he wrote on the treatment Higaonon evacuees from Sitio Camansi, Barangay Banglay in Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental had received when they descended on Cagayan de Oro to seek help from the provincial government.

Gallardo for his part said he might have been targeted because he had recently interviewed the New People’s Army on a raid in which they seized a number of weapons from security guards of Minergy Power Corporation.

“But whatever they may have done, there is nothing that justifies such harassment and vilification and, in the case of Cong, an actual death threat,” the NUJP said.

“It is not as if our colleagues have not alerted and sought the help of local officials and the local security community,” the group added.

In July, representatives of the Cagayan de Oro Chapter of the NUJP, the Cagayan de Oro Press Club and church organizations held a dialogue with local government officials to stop the red-tagging of personalities and organizations in the city.

No concrete action has yet materialized as a result of the dialogue.

“We hold that the reason the red tagging, particularly of Cong, has worsened to actually turn potentially deadly is because of the apparent lack of interest of local government and security units to protect those so threatened and to go after and prosecute those responsible for this clearly dangerous vilification,” the NUJP statement said.

The NUJP demanded that authorities and security forces in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao ensure the safety of other journalists who find themselves in danger because of red tagging.

“We urge our colleagues in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao to close ranks and join us demand from your local government and security officials the protection you are entitled to,” the NUJP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Mindanao Bishops ask Duterte to stop attacks against IFI

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) in Mindanao published an open letter to President Rodrigo Duterte asking him to stop ongoing harassment against their clergy in the island.

Gathering in Cagayan de Oro City last March 25 and 26 for a conferential meeting with the Church’s Supreme Bishop, the Most Reverend Rhee M. Timbang, the 14 IFI bishops they have been attacked through red tagging, vilification, surveillance, harassment and intimidation and worse, killings they suspect are the handiwork of government security forces.

“We saw at the highways and even walls of our churches desecrated with graffiti maligning the IFI and its leaders, Bishop Antonio Ablon of Pagadian and Bishop Felixberto Calang of Cagayan de Oro,” their letter said.

The bishops said the most recent attack against their Church happened last February 22 where leaflets or hit list bearing names of the bishops including that of Fr. Chris Ablon, Fr. Rolando Abejo, Fr. Khen Apus and their friends openly identified these people as members of underground revolutionary groups.

“This baseless and malicious accusation strongly believed to be orchestrated by state forces has openly identified these people as members of the CPP-NPA-NDFP (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines).

“We as episcopal leaders of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in Mindanao are very much alarmed that wanton extra judicial killings may fall on our church leaders. God forbid!” they said.

The bishops blame Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao for causing the “evil acts” as well as the refusal of the police to investigate their complaints.

“Worse, illegal arrest and detention, trump up charges and forced NPA surrenderees of peasants and lumad who are partners of our church in our community work and mission are conveniently presented to the public as prima facie evidence of the IFI’s and bishops’ affiliation to the rebel group,” they said.

The church leaders also complained that several active church lay leaders now fear for their lives and security as they are constantly under surveillance and are possible subject to warrantless arrest.

The bishops asked Duterte to end the attacks against peasant and labor leaders, against lumad and their communities, against defenders of lumad schools, lawyers, media and the Church.

The letter was signed by Timbang, Ablon, Calang, Cabadbaran Bishop Delfin Callao Jr., Davao Bishop Denny Dapitan, Libertad Bishop Rudy Juliada, Surigao Bishop Noel Lorente, Dinagat Bishop Mervin Jose Elimanco, Siargao Bishop Romeo Tagud, Koronadal Bishop Redeemer Yañez, Tubod Bishop Raul Amorcillo, Cortez Bishop Julius Dacera, Ozamiz Bishop Carlo Morales, Oroquieta Bishop Victor Batoy, and Malaybalay Bishop Gil Dinapo. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Rights groups express alarm over intensified harassment

By Joseph Cuevas

Karapatan and other progressive groups scored the government over recent incidents of harassments and red-tagging of progressive organizations and activists.

Karapatan linked this series of attacks to the alleged ‘Red October’ destabilization plot the military and police said the Communist Party of the Philippines and other groups are about to launch this month.

Karapatan reported that last week, red-tagging incidents by State forces against church leaders and organizations were recorded.

Last September 21, the Karapatan chapter in Cagayan Valley received text messages accusing the organization of being a legal front of the New People’s Army and being “fake humanitarians.”

The group also reported last that last September 29 in Pampanga, a streamer was hung over a bridge in Balibago in Angeles City with a message “Karapatan, terrorist and protector.”

A similar incident happened last September 28 in Zamboanga Del Sur where the perimeter wall of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) church in Tigbao town were painted with the words “IFI=NPA”.

“UCCP=NPA, IFI=NPA and Bishop Ablon=NPA” were also painted along the highway of Brgy. Lacupayan in Tigbao.

IFI Bishop Antonio Ablon is the chairperson of Karapatan Western Mindanao.

Legal groups red-tagged

Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) also reported harassments against its chairperson Gloria Arellano and public information officer Michael Beltran.

KADAMAY said two police officers asked for their whereabouts at their office in Quezon City but the two leaders were not around at the time.

The unidentified police officer also queried KADAMAY personnel about Arellano and Beltran’s activities.

Organizers and labor leaders of NutriAsia in Meycauayan in Bulacan also reported harassments by police in civilian clothing were roving around the church where workers were staying.

Incidents of rock throwing also happened after workers ran after fleeing motorcycle-riding men believed to be NutriAsia guards casing the area.

The workers said even Meycauayan Police Supt. Santos Mera was seen around the area looking for the labor leaders.

Mera commanded the violent dispersals of striking Nutriasia workers last June 14 and July 31.

Red October canard

Karapatan said that the Duterte regime is hard-selling the alleged ‘Red October’ plot to further justify its human rights violations.

The group cited the killing of a 43-year old Moro Human Rights Worker in Maguindanao last September 23.

“The regime is conjuring its own monsters, triggered by insecurities which stem from its inability to solve the country’s problems,” Karapatan said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Peace Center (PPC) said that the so-called ‘Red October’ ouster plot is a lie.

“It is a fabrication aimed at preventing the various legal groups from closing ranks and undertaking bigger joint protest actions. It is a part of scheme to red-tag, demonize and stigmatize the more militant and progressive groups as ‘terrorist’ and ‘communist’ as a prelude to ‘neutralizing’ them with more repressive measures,” the PPC said. #

IFI apologizes to sexual minorities, rejoices in the presence of LGBTIQ+ among members and clergy

Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) urged its members to embrace lesbians, gays and people of all other sexual orientations in an edict issued by its Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB) earlier this year and currently being circulated on social media.

Hoping to end “hurtful hate and suspicion,” the Church said it is challenged to stand with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning and those who identify with the other sexual minorities (LGBTIQ+) as it did when it “affirmed the gift of women priesthood” in the 1990s.

“We believe that the Church must openly embrace God’s people of all sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions (SSOGIE) as we embark on a journey toward a just and peaceful world,” the SCB statement “Our Common Humanity, Our Shared Dignity” said.

Founded in 1902 as a revolutionary national church, IFI continues its reform-oriented doctrine and practice, including tolerance of freemasonry, optional celibacy for its clergy, women priesthood, and special missions for oppressed sectors such as the Lumad of Mindanao.

The Bishops apologized to the sexual minorities for the failures in the past.

“We humbly ask for forgiveness for the many times we have shown indifference, and have made the LGBTIQ+ people feel less human, discriminated against and stigmatized. We apologize for instances they felt that, through our thoughts, words and deeds, God’s love is selective,” the statement said.

IFI said the presence of the sexual minority among its members and clergy must be recognized and rejoiced.

“We applaud their persistent belief in God’s embracing love. The judgment, intolerance and non-acceptance have not stopped many from serving the Church, even through the priestly order. They have enriched the life, work and witness of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente,” it said.

The SCB also said it hopes its move can effect change among other Churches and church people.

“Through this declaration, we implore agenda-setters to discuss laws and initiatives challenging LGBTIQ+ discrimination. Only through this can we truly protect our brothers and sisters in the community, against issues such as abuse and the rise in HIV and AIDS cases in the sector; against avoidable fear, suffering and caution,” it said.

Need to propagate

IFI priest and human rights advocate Dionito Cabillas said their Church must strive to propagate the statement as it is an official declaration from its supreme council.

Cabillas said not all IFI members are ready to accept the edict, but its clergy must explain and teach it in their respective congregations.

“To be true to our revolutionary tradition, we must be a Church that truly loves God, serves the people and struggles to eliminate all forms of discrimination,” Cabillas said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured image from IFI-Negros Occidental FB page)

Church condemns ‘illegal arrest and detention’ of Bishop

THE Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) has accused the Philippine National Police (PNP) of illegally arresting one of its bishops, his wife and their driver in Ozamiz City in Mindanao last night.

The church said IFI Ozamiz Bishop Carlo Morales, his wife Marie Teofifina and driver Sadome Dalid were “illegally arrested, handcuffed and illegally detained in jail” even after he has identified himself as a prelate.

“Still he was accorded with such maltreatments,” IFI Pagadian Bishop Antonio Ablon said. Read more