Development workers, church volunteers arrested in General Santos City

Female church workers and activists in their cell at Police Station 4 in Barangay City Heights General Santos City. (Photo courtesy of Karapatan-SMR)

The group, headed by representatives of the IFI Diocese of Libertad, were in a meeting at the Mother Francisca Spirituality Center at Radasa St., Ladao, General Santos City when the police barged in and served a warrant of arrest for three persons whose names were unknown to them.

By BULATLAT

MANILA — Thirteen development workers, activists and church volunteers of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente-Visayas Mindanao Regional Office (IFI-VIMROD) were arrested by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on July 4, Wednesday at General Santos City.

The IFI-VIMROD expressed alarm over the arrest and called for their immediate release.

An initial report from the IFI-VIMROD said the group, headed by representatives of the IFI Diocese of Libertad, were in a meeting at the Mother Francisca Spirituality Center at Radasa St., Ladao, General Santos City when the police barged in and served a warrant of arrest for three persons whose names were unknown to them.

It was 8:00 p.m. and the group was conducting a project assessment as part of the turnover of the IFI-VIMROD Integrated Development Program to the diocese.

“The police claimed that the participants were the ones named in the warrant of arrest, and then proceeded to detain all of them in Camp Fermin Lira, General Santos City,” the IFI-VIMROD said in a statement.

Those arrested were: Teresita Naul (Karapatan), Aldeem Yanez (Iglesia Filipina Independiente), Jomorito Guaynon (Kalumbay), Ireneo Udarbe (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas), Vennel Chenfoo (Kabataan Partylist), Kristine Cabardo (League of Filipino Students), Roger Plana (VIMROD volunteer), and other companions including the seminar house security guard and staff.

Male activists and church workers are detained at Police Station 1 along Pendatun Avenue, Barangay North General Santos City. (Photo courtesy of Karapatan-SMR)

According to Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region (Karapatan-SMR), they were charged with obstruction of justice.

On July 5, Karapatan-SMR reported that the detainees were jailed separately. The men are detained at Police Station 1, Pendatun Avenue, barangay North while the women are under the custody of Police Station 4, Nuñez street, barangay City Heights also in General Santos.

They are scheduled for inquest proceedings on Friday, July 6.

Felixberto A. Calang, Visayas and Mindanao Bishops Conference Chairperson and IFI-VIMROD Regional Management Board slammed the arrest saying this is another case of abuse under martial law in Mindanao.

“Development workers who are striving to create genuine development to geographically isolated and underserved communities, sadly became victims of trumped-up charges,” said Calang in a statement.

Photo courtesy of Karapatan-SMR

Just recently, two Iglesia Filipino Independiente priests, Fr. Randy Manicap Sr. and Fr. Arvin Mangrubang also experienced military surveillance and received death threats.

Manicap, parish priest of Santa Anna, Piddig, Diocese of Laoag, is actively involved with people’s and human rights organizations in Ilocos Norte.
Mangrubang, parish priest of St. Joseph, in Sta. Elena, Dipilat, Vintar, Ilocos Norte was also reportedly included in the military’s order of battle in the province.

The IFI-VIMROD also reiterated their call for the resumption of peace talks. Clagel N. Nellas, IFI-VIMROD executive director said “peace talks is a sustainable solution in achieving genuine development and creating a safe environment for all development workers.” ()

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