DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The government peace panel is asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to immediately review the case of a bishop who was arrested with a communist leader in Ozamis City last month.

In a statement on Friday, government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III said they want the DOJ to expedite the process for the immediate release of Protestant bishop Carlos Morales.

Bello said priests and bishops of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), where Morales serves as bishop, have been “assisting the Government it its peace efforts and initiatives especially in facilitating the release of (government) captured soldiers/military officers or members of law enforcement agencies in the past.”

Another prelate of the IFI (popularly known as the Aglipayan Church), Bishop Felixberto Calang has been actively participating in the GRP-NDF negotiations in Europe as an independent observer.

Photo from Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Pagadian Diocese

On several occasions, Calang served as third party facilitator in the release of government soldiers and policemen captured by rebels belonging to the New People’s Army, the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Bello urged the DOJ to look into Morales’ case on “humanitarian ground.”

Morales was arrested on May 12 at a military checkpoint together with National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace panel consultant Rommel Salinas.

Salinas was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest for destructive arson, murder, frustrated murder, attempted murder and robbery.

Morales’ arrests came several weeks before the cancelled 5th round of peace talks in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

Earlier this month, the NDFP said out of the 411 political prisoners they submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for release, a total of 39 detainees was released, 20 of the cases were based on the merits while 19 were in consideration of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

However, the NDFP said a total of 39 persons were also arrested.(davaotoday.com)

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