CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) and church groups condemned the arrest of one of its leaders in the city on Sunday and the charges filed against him.
Arrested was Aldeem Yañez, a worker of the IFI, who was arrested in his home in Barangay Iponan on Palm Sunday. Police reported they seized firearms in his residence.
Bishop Rhee Timbang, the IFI supreme bishop, deplored the arrest.
“His arrest resembles the established pattern in apprehending church people active in their social advocacy and public witness. It follows after being red-tagged and is carried out beyond constitutional procedure,” the bishop said.
“We in the IFI leadership decry this grave abuse of police and military power and the cooptation of the civil courts. We root this in the tyrannical rule of the present dispensation which has no regard and respect of the law, human rights, social justice and human dignity,” he added.
Timbang describes Yañez as an IFI member in good standing, active and committed in his participation to the life and work of the Church as being a consistent church youth leader in the parish, diocesan, regional and national level.
The bishop said Yañez served as volunteer staff of Visayas-Mindanao Regional Office for Development [VIMROD], a development program of the IFI, and of Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform [PEPP], a network of peace advocates in the country, seeking for the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP to resolve basic social problems in our land. Yañez is also a musician and songwriter of many church songs used popularly within and outside the IFI.
IFI priest Fr. Chris Ablon said the allegation against Yañez is incredulous.
“The illegal possession of firearms, illegal possession of explosives, it’s very absurd, especially to us who have known him,” Ablon said.
The Promotion of Church People’s Response in Northern Mindanao posted on its Facebook page Monday saying the arrest fills the pattern of authorities in harassing activists.
“In an established pattern, the arresting officers were reported to have planted firearms and munitions during the operations to substantiate the continued detention of Aldeem Yañez in an early morning raid of his home in Cagayan de Oro yesterday,” the group said.
It added “legal activists continue to be harassed and silenced by red-tagging and other types of public vilification. Despite the fact that his prior accusations were rejected owing to a lack of sufficient evidence against him and the others, the state continues to use the law against its critics.”
Yañez was one of the 17 activists in the region accused of taking part in carrying out an attack on a military patrol base in Sibagat town, Agusan del Sur by the New People’s Army in 2018, although the charges against him and his co-defendants were quashed by Judge Fernando Fudalan of the Bayugan City Regional Trial Court Branch 7 since the warrants against them did not contain specific identifying information such as occupation, appearance and exact place of residence. (davaotoday.com)