CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 12 April) – The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) has lambasted the Philippine National Police and the military for the arrest over the weekend of one of its red-tagged members in this city.
Members of the church, in an indignation rally in Manila on Monday, has called for the immediate release of Aldeem Yañez.
IFI Supreme Bishop Rhee Timbang deplored the arrest of Yañez in his house in Barangay Iponan on alleged trumped-up charges as another attempt to link his church and members to the ongoing communist rebellion in the country.
Timbang said Yañez is a good-standing IFI member who served as a volunteer to the IFI Visayas-Mindanao Regional Office for Development (VIMROD) and the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, a network that seeks the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front.
“His arrest resembles the established pattern in apprehending church people active in their social advocacy and followed after being red-tagged,” Timbang said.
He called for the immediate release of Yañez, who is presently detained at the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Office in Camp Evangelista, Barangay Patag here awaiting court inquest.
Lt. Col. Michelle Olaivar, PNP 10 spokesperson, said police raiders found a Colt caliber .45 pistol and a grenade from the house of Yañez in Urban Poor Village in Barangay Iponan last Sunday.
She said the police also found two rifle grenades and subversive documents.
Olaivar said the search was conducted on the strength of a search warrant issued on April 6 by Judge Arthur Abundiente of the Regional Trial Court Branch 25 in Cagayan de Oro.
She said police are preparing a criminal case against Yañez for violation of Republic Act. 10591 otherwise known as “The Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act,” a bailable offense.
Yañez was also arrested in 2018 after the police in General Santos City tagged him and 12 other human rights workers and leaders of progressive groups as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
A local court later released Yañez and his co-accused, who became known as “the GenSan 13,” dismissing the frustrated murder and murder cases filed against them.
Yañez and 17 other activists were arrested again and brought to Sibagat town in Agusan del Sur in 2020. They were among the 555 persons charged with alleged involvement in an NPA attack on a CAFGU patrol base in Sibagat town on December 19, 2018.
Judge Fernando Fudalan of the Bayugan City Regional Trial Court later quashed the arrest warrants against Yañez and 533 other activists.
Rev. Christopher Ablon, IFI National Program Coordinator, said a daily indignation rally has been staged at 5:30 p.m. at the IFI National Cathedral along Taft Avenue in Manila.
Ablon said a daily noise barrage would also be conducted following the evening prayers at the cathedral. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)