IFI condemns the arrest of its church employee

Photo from Facebook account of Redemeer Yanez

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) and religious groups have condemned the arrest of one of its leaders in the city on Sunday and the charges brought against him.

Aldeem Yañez, an IFI employee, was arrested at his home in Barangay Iponan on Palm Sunday. Police said they seized firearms from his residence.

Bishop Rhee Timbang, the Supreme Bishop of the IFIs, lamented the arrest.

“His arrest resembles the established pattern for apprehending church members active in social advocacy and public witness. He follows after being marked red and is executed beyond constitutional process,” the Bishop said.

“We at the IFI leadership denounce this serious abuse of police and military power and the co-option of civilian courts. We root this in the tyrannical rule of the current dispensation which disregards and disrespects 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 in the life and work of the Church as being a constant leader of the youth of the Church at the parish, diocesan, regional and national level. .

The Bishop said Yañez was a volunteer staff member of the Visayas-Mindanao Regional Development Office. [VIMROD]a development program of the IFI and the Philippine Ecumenical Platform for Peace [PEPP], a network of peace advocates in the country, seeking the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP to solve the fundamental social problems of our country. Yañez is also a musician and songwriter of many church songs used popularly inside and outside the IFI.

IFI priest Fr. Chris Ablon said the allegation against Yañez is incredulous.

“Illegal possession of firearms, illegal possession of explosives, it’s very absurd, especially to us who have known it,” Ablon said.

On Monday, the Promotion of Church People’s Response in Northern Mindanao posted on its Facebook page that the arrest confirms authorities’ pattern of harassing activists.

“According to an established pattern, the arresting officers allegedly placed firearms and ammunition during operations to justify the continued detention of Aldeem Yañez during an early morning search of his home in Cagayan de Oro yesterday,” the band said.

He added that “legal activists continue to be harassed and silenced with red tags and other types of public defamation. Despite the fact that his earlier charges were dismissed due to insufficient evidence against him and others, the state continues to use the law against its critics.

Yañez was one of 17 activists from the region accused of taking part in the attack on a military patrol base in the town of Sibagat, Agusan del Sur by the New People’s Army in 2018, although the charges against he and his co-defendants were overturned by Judge Fernando Fudalan of the Bayugan City Regional Trial Court Section 7 because the warrants against them did not contain specific identifying information such as occupation, appearance and the exact place of residence. (davaotoday.com)

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