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BAGUIO, Philippine – Leaders of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP), also known as the Anglican Church, have strongly opposed the terrorist designation of one of their members in the Cordillera region.
ECP Prime Bishop Brent Alawas and five diocesan bishops released a joint statement on Wednesday, October 25, in support of indigenous peoples’ rights activist and development worker Sarah Abellon Alikes.
Bishop Rex Reyes of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Luzon presented their statement to Alikes during the Indigenous Peoples’ Month celebration at Easter College in Baguio City on Thursday, October 26.
On July 10, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) announced the terrorist designation of Alikes, along with Cordillera Peoples Alliance leaders Windel Bolinget, Stephen Tauli, and Jennifer Awingan. This decision came months after an Abra court had excluded them from a rebellion case due to a lack of probable cause.
The bishops pointed out Alikes’ “active participation and leadership” in their local church in Barangay Nayon, Lamut, Ifugao, where she resides. They also noted the dismissal of charges filed by the police and military.
They attested to her current roles as an officer of the Wilderness Church Parish Council, a commissioned lay minister, and a member of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Santiago, which has jurisdiction over Ifugao.
Alikes, who shared her predicament during the event, welcomed the initiative taken by the ECP leadership.
“It is uplifting and encouraging when in times of tyranny, church people stand with the people and justice. This is a good example of our Christian duty, and for other religious denominations, to stand up for what is right,” she said.
Alikes is the daughter of Bishop Richard Abellon, the first Philippine prime bishop. He served as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon during the peak of the anti-Chico Dams struggle, providing support to indigenous communities opposing the project.
Earlier this month, the Baguio City Council also passed a resolution urging the ATC to take back the terrorist designation of four Igorot activists. – Rappler.com