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‘FOR MY CHURCH AND MY PEOPLE’: Filipino Bishop bears cross in foreign lands

By Raymund B. Villanueva

Nearly 650 bishops of the global Anglican Communion gathered at England’s Kent University last July 27 to August 8 for its Lambeth Conference that only happens once every 10 years. In one of his daily addresses to their most important gathering of leaders, Archbishop of Canterbury Justine Welby asked the nine Philippine Episcopal and Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) bishops in attendance to stand after a moving choral rendition of the Filipino song “Dulang ng Ama.”

Welby prayed: “Our Lord and Gracious God, unite Your church in the Philippines and give them strength with their new government. Bring their bishop in exile who has not seen his family for two years and may not see them for another four or five. Bring him back from exile. Transform government that it may be made in justice, may be able to hear criticism and change habits. Bless the Philippines with peace in places of war and struggle. Bring reconciliation. We pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Church of England’s supreme bishop Welby implored for IFI Bishop Chaplain in Europe Antonio Narcua Ablon, one of the most persecuted church leaders in the world today.

Red-tagged

Bishop Ablon’s persecution began in June 2018 when he joined a human rights fact-finding mission in Barangay Saad in Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur in June 2018. They received word that a Philippine Army unit has encamped in the indigenous Subanen community that resulted in harassments, intimidation and the arrest of two residents. On the mission’s second day, the soldiers told the bishop and his team to leave as “they did not coordinate with the military.” After returning to his diocese, a Col. Merlowe Patria paid Bishop Ablon a “friendly visit” to order him to seek permission from him and the mayor next time, “so as not to disrupt special projects in the area.” The military officer also warned the church leader not to publicize the information they gathered.

Barangay Saad suffered more harassments after the fact-finding mission. The soldiers went house to house soon after and organized a “mass surrender ceremony” of alleged New People’s Army (NPA) sympathizers  in August of that year. Unable to abandon his flock, Bishop Ablon facilitated another fact-finding mission, this time by the Commission on Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The retribution against the bishop started a month later. In September, their churches were defiled and painted with “IFI = NPA!” Throughout northern and western Mindanao, streamers and traffic barriers screamed allegations of the bishop’s connection with the underground revolutionary army, along with other groups such as the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Bayan Muna, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and others.

An Iglesia Filipina Independiente Church in Zamboanga del Sur was defiled by red-taggers in September 2018. (Photo from Davao Today)

In response to increasing threats to his life, the Lutheran Church of Northern Germany and the Christian Catholic Church (also known as the Old Catholic Church, OCC) in Europe invited Bishop Ablon to a conference in Germany in May 2019. Before he could return to the Philippines, however, police officers barged into his Pagadian cathedral, looking for him. The armed men confronted his deacon and told him the bishop is being served with an arrest warrant. When the priest demanded to see the document, he was told it was merely a joke.

The OCC Bishop of Utrecht, the church’s traditional leader, asked Bishop Ablon to stay in Europe for three more months to give the situation a chance to “cool down.” It did not.

‘Seafarers’ pastor’

It was during the Bishop’s visit to Europe that the Iceland-sponsored resolution was passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines. The resolution expresses concern over allegations of human rights violations in the Philippines, particularly involving extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as intimidation and persecution of human rights defenders and others critical of the government.

Bishop Ablon thought he could provide testament to the contents of the resolution. He spoke before churches and organizations throughout Europe to give witness to the human rights situation in the Philippines. He joined Filipino human rights alliance Ecuvoice representatives Atty. Edre Olalia and Cristina Palabay during the July 2019 adoption of the Iceland-led resolution at the UN Human Rights Council. In March 2020, Bishop Ablon once again joined a delegation of Ecuvoice at a UNHRC session in Geneva, Switzerland.

Seeing that the bishop’s safety remains a concern if he returns to the Philippines, the Hamburg Foundation for Politically-Persecuted Persons in November 2019 gave him a scholarship for a year to stay in Germany. When the scholarship concluded, the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Germany appointed him as  ecumenical co-worker to allow him to stay longer. He was then asked to serve as port chaplain in Hamburg and minister to seafarers, many of whom are Filipinos. He busied himself assisting sailors, particularly those quarantined due to the corona virus pandemic.

Bishop Antonio Ablon bringing assistance to a sailor at the Hamburg port.

The bishop’s hopes for his return to the Philippines before long was dashed when former President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the anti-terrorism bill in July 2020, however. He was convinced to apply for asylum and was granted an interview by the German government in December 2021. It was granted in just 16 days.

This month, Bishop Ablon returned to the United Nations in Geneva to attend the UNHRC’s fourth periodic review on the human rights situation in the Philippines. He spoke at the rally in front of the UN after the review and in a forum at the World Council of Churches headquarters in Geneva. In the Swiss capital of Bern last November 12, he attended as special guest the city’s Night of the Religions. The next day, he delivered a sermon at the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in a Mass celebrated by OCC Bern Bishop Harald Rein. In his homily, Bishop Ablon asked for solidarity by the churches and peoples of the world for the Filipino people’s quest for human rights and justice.

Bishop Antonio Ablon delivering his homily at the Bern Cathedral last November 13, the eve of the fourth Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human rights Council on the Philippines. (Photo by Koko Alviar, IFI)

“Tell the world”

Bishop Ablon has become a celebrity of sorts in Europe. He is welcomed by fellow bishops, priests and church members in many churches and across religions. He elicits greater admiration when they realize that he brings his bishop’s vestments in a simple and small backpack that he received as a loyal public transport passenger.

Bishop Ablon’s pectoral cross (second from top left) made headlines at the recent Lambeth Conference of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

His own pectoral cross, an intricate beadwork made especially for him by the Lumad, was cited as one of the most unique among hundreds at the Lambeth Conference.

But the church leader has more crosses to bear than being a church and diocese-less bishop in foreign land. He has not seen his wife and younger son for three years and makes do with just video calls. “In fact, when President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. became president, I thought of not seeing my family anytime soon,” he said.

“In my sermons and speeches, however, I always remember what the community leader of Barangay Saad begged of me,” Bishop Ablon said. He said it is what gives him strength. “In my last visit to Barangay Saad, the elder held my hand and begged me: ‘Tell the whole world of what we suffer and our dreams of a better life. We hope the persecution of us Lumads would stop,’” the bishop recalls.

“This is now my mission for my church and my people,” Ablon said. #

Red-tagging of 1st IFI woman bishop, 3 priests go unabated in Ilocos Norte

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.)

IFI Supreme Bishop: Church worker’s arrest ‘grave abuse’ of police-military power

Church and family say Aldeem Yañez is an exemplary church worker and Christian activist, not a terrorist

A church group as well as the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) denounced the arrest of church and development worker Aldeem Yañez at three o’clock in the morning of April 10, Palm Sunday, saying the charges against him are “blatant fabrication.”

The Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) said it denounces the early morning raid that is part of an “established pattern by state forces to conduct search or arrest operations in the dead of night.”

“Blatant fabrication of evidence and pro forma testimonies by arresting officers are an affront to truth and common decency,” the PCPR added.

Supreme Bishop Rhee Timbang himself spoke in behalf of the IFI in demanding Yañez’s release, saying the arrest was illegal and the charge of illegal possession of firearms against him are trumped up.

“We demand for the release of Aldeem Yañez and for the dropping of all trumped-up charges against him. We oppose illegal arrest and detention, and call for the stop of red-tagging! We shout to stop church persecution! We call for the resumption of peace talks!” Bishop Timbang said in a statement.

An activist and a repeated victim of red-tagging, Yañez is accused by the police and military to be a member of the New People’s Army.

Sunday’s arrest last Sunday is Yañez’s second. He was among 13 church workers arrested in General Santos City in July 2018.

Bishop Timbang however denied police and military allegations their church worker is a member of the NPA, adding Yañez is an IFI member in good standing.

He said Yañez is “active and committed in his participation to the life and work of the Church as being a consistent church youth leader in the parish, diocesan, regional [Mindanao], and national level.”

The prelate said Yañez was at one time the National Youth President of the IFI.

“As expression of his ministry, he served as volunteer staff of Visayas-Mindanao Regional Office for Development, a development program of the IFI, and of Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform [PEPP], a network of peace advocates in the country, seeking for the resumption of peace talks between the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) to resolve basic social problems in our land,” Bishop Timbang added.

“We in the IFI leadership decry this grave abuse of police and military power and the cooptation of the civil courts. We root this in the tyrannical rule of the present dispensation which has no regard and respect of the law, human rights, social justice and human dignity,” he said.

Bishop Timbang said Yañez is a musician and songwriter of many church songs used popularly within and outside the IFI.

Family of church workers

Yañez is a brother to an IFI Bishop and a Priest.

In an appeal, Fr. June Mark Yañez said his brother could not have kept guns inside their Cagayan de Oro home where Aldeem was taking care of their elderly parents.

“Who in their right minds would be keeping firearms and explosives in such a situation? Besides, Aldeem has no record of being a gun smuggler or drug dealer that would force him to keep such weapons where his beloved parents are,” Fr. Yañez asked.

The Priest said their brother is an exemplary servant of the Church and the Filipino people.

“He may not have become a priest like me or a bishop like our other brother, but we could not compare to his dedication to serve the Church. The guitar is his favorite instrument in spreading the good news. It is also his weapon of resistance as an activist, not guns and bullets that were planted as evidence against him by the shameless and desperate state agents who arrested him,” Fr. Yañez said.

Bishop Redeemer Yañez for his part said their brother Aldeem is an activist “if the word is to be defined as a person who sees the misery of his people, who hears the cry of the poor, who is concerned about their sufferings, and journey with them in the path of emancipation.”

Bishop Yañez said that their brother’s concern for the poor is rooted on his deep faith that was nurtured by their family, his nationalist church, and by his long involvement in the ecumenical and developmental works.

Aside from being a former national youth president of the IFI, Aldeem was also a former vice chairperson of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

“He is a Christian activist. He is not a terrorist,” Bishop Yañez said.

Their mother Kathleen said she was hard-broken to see her youngest son in handcuffs and sleeping on the cold concrete floor of Camp Evangelsta in Patag, Cagayan de Oro City.

But she added that her spirit is lifted with the outpouring of support of the IFI and the many organizations and individuals who know the real Aldeem.

“I am happy to know there are so many who love my most kind son. This child of mine is spending his whole life serving the church and the poor. The only time he is away is the time he is with the poorest who are driven away from their homes and are victims of injustices,” she said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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