Police: Charges filed vs pastor who held church service amid COVID-19 scare

Apr. 06, 2020

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Complaints were formally filed against a church leader who allegedly defied government regulations on mass gathering and social distancing by holding worship service, police said Monday (April 6).

Capt. Sebastian Chua Jr., chief at the Divisoria police station, said the charges against Pastor Alfred Caslam have already been endorsed at the city prosecutor’s office.

Chua said Caslam is now facing a case for alleged violation of section 9 (d) of Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

Said section of the law prohibits “non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern.”

Chua added that Caslam was also in violation of executive orders that the city government issued prohibiting mass gatherings of people and observing social distancing amid the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

He said Caslam’s legal counsel has petitioned a local court for bail that would give the pastor temporary liberty while his case is being heard.

It was not immediately known if Caslam’s petition for bail was granted by the court Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, in a text message sent to reporters late Sunday, the Cagayan de Oro Evangelical Council (CEC) condemned Caslam’s arrest.

“The CEC supports Pastor Alfred Caslam, who was arrested by authorities because of the divine service his ministry conducted,” the group said.

“We feel that constitutional provisions which state the Freedom of Religion was violated, and the principle of the Separation of the Church and State was disregarded,” the council added.

The CEC said “no executive order or statutes can supersede the Constitution for it is the Supreme and fundamental law of the land.”

“Rev. Caslam was arrested and handcuffed as if he was a criminal. We strongly condemn such atrocity for shaming the servant of God. We rally behind Rev. Caslam even in the court of law,” it added.(davaotoday.com)

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