Illegal arrest of church workers, rights defenders hit

A human rights group has decried the illegal arrest of 13 development workers and church workers who were attending a program consultation on issues affecting farmers and the Lumad in the Mother Francisca and Spirituality Center, Radasa St., Ladao, General Santos City last night, July 4, 2018.

The 13 arrested development and church workers include: Teresita Naul (Karapatan), Aldeem Yanez (Iglesia Filipina Independiente), Jomorito Guaynon (Kalumbay), Ireneo Udarbe (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas), Vennel Chenfoo (Kabataan Partylist), Kristine Cabardo (League of Filipino Students), Roger Plana (VIMROD volunteer), and other companions including the seminar house security guard and staff.

Human rights group Karapatan, in an urgent alert, said they were brought to the Camp Lera Police Headquarters. The charges against them remain unknown.

Those arrested were attending a program consultation with the volunteers and partners of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente Visayas-Mindanao Regional Office for Development (IFI-VIMROD), a humanitarian and development arm of the Church.

Bishop Felixberto Calang, Chairperson of IF-VIMROD strongly condemned the arrest as a “case of human rights abuse under martial law rule in Mindanao.”

He demanded for the immediate release of the 13 development workers and asked the government and the police to “ensure their safety so that they may be able to continue their development work without any threat of harassment and violence.”

The arrest came in just two weeks after Iglesia Filipina Independiente priests’ Fr. Randy Manicap and Fr. Randy Mangrubang who serve in the Diocese of Laoag were reported to be subjected to surveillance and receiving death threats. (RPRD News)

(Photo grabbed from Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay’s Facebook post)

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