Photo courtesy of Karapatan

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Detained church workers and rights activists were released ​on bail after ​their ​arrest on the evening of July 4​ in General Santos City ​while holding an organizational consultation on peasant and ​tribal issues​.

They were granted temporary liberty by the Municipal Trial Court in General Santos City after posting bail last Friday.

Arrested church workers and rights activists were Teresita Naul, Karapatan National Council member for Northern Mindanao; Aldeem Yanez of the IFI; Datu Jomorito Guaynon, Chairperson of the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization; Ireneo Udarbe of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; Vennel Chenfoo, previously the 3rd nominee of the Kabataan Partylist; Kristine Cabardo of the League of Filipino Students; and Roger Plana, an IFI-VIMROD volunteer, Byron Porras who is a resident of Barangay Bula, Rosemarie Cantano a working student and Virgelio Sanama, identified as guard of Mother Francisca and Spirituality Center in Radasa st. Lagao General Santos City.

​Bo​th Emillo Gabales and Delia Catubay ​remained ​on detention​, as authorities insisted on their alleged involvement ​in murder and frustrated murder ​cases ​and ​we​re ​thus ​considered high-risk individuals. They ​we​re scheduled for transfer to Malaybalay, Bukidnon where the case​s​ w​ere​ filed against them.

In an interview with Ryan Amper of Barud Katungod, he said the 11 individuals were arrest​ed​ due to obstruction of justice. Amper sa​id agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group​ ​and military ​personnel ​barged inside the center while the meeting ​wa​s going ​on ​to serve the warrant of arrest o​n​ three persons, whose names were unknown to the participants in the meeting.

The authorities brought all the participants to the PNP Regional Headquarters at Camp Fermin Lira after police alleged that the participants were the ones named in the said warrant.

“There is no resistance on them as per the statement of the arrested individuals. This is a clear alibi and excuse of the PNP to implement their plan and tagged them as terrorist” said Amper.

In a statement released by rights group Karapatan, Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that “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 Mindanao.”

​The ​Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN) said that “while this government continues to claim of its openness to resume peace talks with the NDFP, it also persists in committing atrocious acts of plunder in Lumad communities, attacking our schools, perpetrating harassments and extra-judicial killings, and arresting our leaders.”

Goaynon and Plana are both Lumad community leaders and head Kalumaran’s regional allied organization Kalumbay based in Cagayan de Oro City.

Iglesia Filipina Independiente-Visayas Mindanao Regional Office for Development’s statement has also condemned the arrest of 13 development workers stating that ” Development workers who are striving to create a genuine development to geographically isolated and underserved communities, sadly become victims of trumped-up charges instead of acknowledging their valuable contribution and supporting their efforts, the government maligns their development work to justify repression.”

Karapatan’s data of ​​arrests ​it considered illegal ​in Mindanao have reached to at least 986 victims since ​M​artial ​L​aw was imposed ​on ​May 23, ​last year. At least 95 have been detained. Majority of them are peasants and Lumad. All of them were ​charged with ​alleged ​fabricated criminal cases. (

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