IFI bishop in Ozamiz freed on bail

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 16 March) – A bishop of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI or Philippine Independent Church) in Mindanao was released Thursday evening after spending 309 days in jail.

Bishop Morales on handcuffs. Photo from IFI-Ozamiz’s Facebook page

IFI Bishop Carlo Morales was freed after posting a bail of P200,000. He was jailed in Ozamiz City since May 11 along with Rommel Salinas, a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), on charges of illegal possession of explosives.

“He is fine and well and ready to resume work,” IFI Maximo Obispo Rhee Timbang said in a statement.

The IFI leadership appreciated the freedom of Bishop Morales but his ordeal must be continually condemned, Timbang said.

“The act of prosecuting a servant of God based on trumped-up charges is a big injustice made to a person and to the Church that expressed solidarity to the struggle of the people and support to the peace talks between the Government and the NDFP,” he said.

The IFI earlier described the allegation against Morales as malicious and ridiculous.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who is also the government’s chief negotiator in peace talks with the communist rebels, asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) June last year to expedite the legal process for the release of Morales from prison.

President Rodrigo Duterte terminated peace talks with the communist rebels last November, accusing them of continuing their attacks against government forces. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)