The Ramento Project for Rights Defenders (RPRD) and South Central Luzon Bishops Conference (SCLBC) condemn the continuing “red tagging” of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and its bishops.
Vandalisms along the highway at Brgy. Tipan, Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental were found on December 18 which maliciously accused Bishop Antonio Ablon and Bishop Carlo Morales as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The vandalism carries the blatant accusation that the bishops are “communists supporters” if not “communists” themselves. “Red-tagging” has become a common practice of the military to harass perceived critics of the government.
RPRD believes that the bishops are being targeted because of their works in defending the rights of indigenous peoples and for being outspoken against human rights violations in martial law Mindanao.
“This red-tagging puts our bishops at grave risk,” Fr. Jonash Joyohoy, RPRD Executive Director, said. “It is no secret how state security forces and paramilitary groups have been known to assassinate people alleged as communists and members of the NPA,” the priest added.
SCLBC Chairperson Bishop Rowel Arevalo said he fears the labeling of Bishop Ablon and Bishop Morales forebodes more intensified attacks against the Church, clergy and church people for expressing strong displeasure and indignation against the Duterte government’s human rights violations.
“This is an apparent military-orchestrated campaign to silence the voices of our Church against the human rights abuses of the Duterte government,” RPRD Board Chairperson Bishop Ronelio Fabriquer said.
“They can spread ludicrous lies about and try to malign the good names of our bishops, but they cannot sow terror in our hearts for what we are doing, standing for and defending God’s poor from state-sponsored abuses and attacks, is a Gospel imperative,” the bishop added.
“The Church will ever be vigilant in condemning the intensifying state perpetrated abuses and anti-people polices of this fascist Duterte regime. Our faith will help us overcome the evils of this present dispensation,” Fr. Joyohoy said.#