German interfaith group tells Duterte: Release jailed church leaders, HR workers

Oct. 13, 2017

Maria Toefilina Morales (center), wife of detained Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Carlo Morales, seeks help from an interfaith group in Hamburg, Germany, Center for Global Ministries and Ecumenical Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany, on October 4, 2017. (Photo courtesy of National Council of Churches in the Philippines)

DAVAO DEL NORTE, Philippines—An interfaith group based in Germany is appealing ​to ​President Rodrigo Duterte to release all the jailed church leaders, human rights workers and political prisoners in the country.

Dr. Klaus Schäfer, director of the Center for Global Ministries and Ecumenical Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany, said Duterte should fulfill his campaign promise to release all of them in response to the growing calls to resume the halted peace talks with the communists.

The religious organization called on the president to “release Bishop Morales and Mr. Salinas and to bring the badly interrupted peace talks to a successful end.”

Schäfer was referring to Bishop Carlo Morales of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) who heads a diocese in Ozamiz City and Rommel Salinas, who the Army alleged was the ​secretary general of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Western Mindanao.

The IFI bishop and Salinas were arrested ​on ​May 12 this year with IFI community condemning the arrest as “illegal.” Both are now in jail after the authorities charged them with with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Germany-based IFI priest Rev. Fr. Jun Mark Yañez, from the ecumenical staff of the Philippines for the Evangelical Lutheran of Northern Germany, said that Filipinos must unite against any attempts of persecution from the government.

“We must speak of deep solidarity amidst people’s pain and suffering, and be united against persecution and injustices,” he said.

The interfaith group also reaffirmed their support to the people of Mindanao in the wake of the Martial Law implementation in the island.

Amirah Lidasan, a Moro leader from the Moro and indigenous peoples’ coalition Sandugo shared to the group about the Marawi crisis, and the ongoing and intensified militarization in Mindanao.

“Duterte’s martial law clearly exacerbated the human rights violations in Mindanao, and his attack against the Moro people has fanned islamophobia,” she said.

Lidasan claimed that to date about 400,000 individuals have been displaced from their homes in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte provinces.

She also reported on the bombing and other attacks on schools founded to service the Lumad, various indigenous groups who have historically faced neglect and aggression.(

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