Dennis Rodinas, a lay worker of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, was subjected to “custodial debriefing” at a military camp in Misamis Occidental and has not been heard from. His family is concerned that he may end up the latest victim of human-rights atrocities in the Philippines.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — A church worker in Misamis Occidental, who is also the son of a pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), has been reported missing by his family after he was arrested by police and later turned over to the military.
Dennis Rodinas, 35, a lay worker and member of the Protestant church UCCP, was arrested by a police team in Tangub City. Despite a search by his family, he has not been found and his relatives are afraid that he may end up the latest victim in the series of human-rights atrocities that the Philippines have become notorious for.
Many of these abuses have targeted church leaders, workers and members, particularly those from the Protestant denominations.
Deanna Febra, Rodinas’s wife, said members of the Provincial Regional Mobile Unit (PRMU) arrested Rodinas at a checkpoint in barangay (village) Villaba in Tangub City at around 6 a.m. on Monday.
He was later turned over to the military. Why the police did this is still a mystery to the family of Rodinas. Police in the Philippines are supposed to be the main law-enforcement agency. However, in a trend that human-rights groups say contribute to the worsening of atrocities in the Philippines, the military is increasingly getting involved in police matters.
Rodinas managed to call his wife and informed her that Police Inspector Alwin Baclao, the deputy unit supervisor of the second PRMU of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the province, was holding him.
Febra said her husband also called a cousin, Marilyn Jueves, and told the latter that he was being held at a checkpoint in Tangub City.
Febra said Baclao, the police inspector, called Rodinas’s cousin, who is also a police officer, and informed him that Rodinas is in his custody and that he wanted to meet them at the Tangub Police Station.
Jueves, together with the other cousin and a Catholic priest, went to the police station. A certain police officer named Mumulgan, the investigator in charge at the Tangub police station, told Rodinas’s relatives that Baclao was in the field and had not endorsed Rodinas to him.
Later that day, at around 3 p.m., Febra received a text message from Police Director German Doria, informing her that her husband had been subjected to a “custodial debriefing” at the 55th Infantry Battalion based in Langub, Calamba town in Misamis Occidental.
She was told that Rodinas was arrested for allegedly possessing explosive compound and subversive documents during a “combat patrol operation” in Tangub City .
Febra said since late night on Monday, Rodinas could not be found at the 55th IB, at the PRMU office in Oroquieta City, and not even at the Tangub police station.
“I could not imagine what harm could have been inflicted on him now, especially that his location could not be traced yet. I fear for his life considering that the country is notorious in human-rights violations,” she said.
Heed the Outcry
Rodinas’s father Felixberto, a UCCP pastor based in Magpet, North Cotabato, said he is worried his son might see the fate of others who were abducted, tortured and killed.
“I am praying that the government will be humane enough to stop the rampant human rights violations and extra-judicial killings and that the president will heed the outcry of these victims, which now includes my son,” the pastor said.
The UCCP in western Mindanao has organized a quick reaction team to search for Rodinas.