CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Felixberto Calang has questioned the way more than a dozen individuals were arrested by law enforcers in General Santos City on Wednesday night.
Those arrested were officers of progressive groups, development workers and church volunteers, said Calang, adding that the arrest took place inside the Mother Francisca Spiritual Center located at Arradaza St., Barangay Lagao, General Santos.
According to reports, police went to the venue to serve the warrant for two persons and instead rounded up those who were in the middle of a meeting to assess a project of the IFI-Visayas Mindanao Regional Office Integrated Development Program to the diocese.
It was 8:00 p.m. and the group was conducting a project assessment as part of the turnover of the IFI-VIMROD Integrated Development Program to the diocese.
“Why were they arrested when their names were not even on the arrest warrant. It (warrant) was not for any of them,” Calang said in an interview Friday, July 6.
Apprehended by the police were Aldeem Yañez, an IFI worker and secretariat member of the Phil. Ecumenical Peace Platform and Sowing the Seeds of Peace in Mindanao; Teresita Naul, of the human rights group Karapatan; Kristine Cabardo, regional chair of the League of Filipino Students; Vennel Chenfoo, chair of the Kabataan Partylist in Mindanao; Ireneo Udarbe, chair of the peasant collective Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; Datu Jomorito Goaynon, regional leader of the indigenous peoples group Kalumbay Lumad Organization.
The police also handcuffed some members of the staff of IFI-VIMROD.
The arrest, Calang said, “is a persecution to those who have expressed their dissent against the anti-poor, anti-people policies of the government.”
Calang said the court granted the petition of the group, called as the “Gensan 13,” to post bail, although it was still unclear who were given temporary liberty or when they will be released.
The Gensan 13’s arrest also coincided the with the apprehension of the six women members of the Organisasyon sa Yanong Obrerong Nagkahiusa (Ogyon) from Pangantucan, Bukidnon.
Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said the series of illegal arrests of individuals is proof of abuses being perpetrated by the current administration.
“This recent arrest of rights defenders and development workers in Mindanao is a testament to the absence of respect for human and people’s rights under Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao. Civilians, including activists and church workers, are being victimized, while government and military officials trumpet their false claims that there are no human rights abuses. Clearly, these lies are being exposed as the Duterte regime’s all-out war rages against the people of Midnanao,” Palabay said.
Karapatan documented at least 986 victims of illegal arrests in Mindanao, since martial rule was imposed last May 23, 2017 up to June 30, 2018. At least 95 have been detained. Majority of them are peasants and tribal peoples. All of them were charged with with fabricated criminal cases, the group added. (davaotoday.com)