DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Several church groups called for the immediate release of a longtime volunteer lay worker who was arrested on October last year and accused of being a ranking leader of armed rebel group New People’s Army.
The Cotabato Regional Ecumenical Council (COREC), in a statement released on Tuesday, claimed that Mindaley Genotiva is one of their volunteer workers who was implementing fellowship programs on Christian education, ecology, disaster management, and relief operation.
CORAC, which has existed for almost four decades, is the implementing arm of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) in the region.
Among its members are the United Methodist Church (UMC), the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), and the Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP).
According to a previous military statement, Genotiva was arrested by joint military and police forces in Kidapawan City on October 23 on the basis of arrest warrants for charges including alleged murder, frustrated murder, and attempted murder. She is currently detained in a detention facility in Barangay Amas, Kidapawan City.
Human-rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region, however, said that Genotiva is among the several political prisoners in the region, and hundreds of political prisoners in the country, who are languishing in prison due to “false charges.”
The COREC also certified that Genotiva has no “negative record or discrepancy with the Ecumenical Fellowship.”
“She [Genotiva] worked with integrity and endurance in order to spread the message of the Gospel as a mandate of our faith to Jesus Christ,” it said.
“We call on the authorities to work for the immediate release of Mindaley and to clear her records in concerned government agencies. We further call on all churches to support with our prayers the call for [her] immediate release for we believe that truth always prevails through God’s Grace,” the COREC said.
In a separate statement, UCCP Bishop Hamuel Tequis and IFI Bishop Redeemer Yañez said that Genotiva “exchanged her teaching profession for a prophetic mission among the poor Indigenous People (IP) and peasant communities in North Cotabato.”
According to them, Genotiva has long been initiating capacity-building programs for IPs under Tinananon Kulamanon Lumadnung Panaghiusa (TIKULPA) and Apo Sandawa Lumadnung Panaghiusa sa Cotabato (ASLPC), organizations in the province which were also assisted by the Italian priest Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio who was slain in 2011.
She also facilitated agrarian reform projects in areas in North Cotabato and has been visible in various agrarian reform campaigns, they added.
“We collectively reiterate our rightful demand for her immediate release, as helping underprivileged communities is part of the Church’s wider mission and never a crime,” the bishops said. (davaotoday.com)