Aglipayan Church condemns arrest of its bishop

Bobby Lagsa

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Aglipayan Church condemns arrest of its bishop
'The arrest and the filing of trumped-up charges against Bishop Morales and his companions are but a brazen violation of their rights,' Obispo Maximo Ephraim Fajutagana says

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The Aglipayan Church, formally known as the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), has condemned the arrest and detention of one of its bishops in Ozamiz City.

“The Iglesia Filipina Independiente strongly denounces the illegal arrest of Bishop Carlos Morales and his wife Maria Teofilina, and two other companions, Isadome Dalis and Rommel [Salinas],” said IFI Obispo Maximo Ephraim Fajutagana in a statement posted on social media on Friday night, May 12. 

The 4 were arrested by a joint team of police and soldiers in a checkpoint in Barangay Gango, Ozamiz, on Thursday, May 11. They were then brought to a police station in Ozamiz. 

The police regional office said Rommel Salinas has standing warrants of arrest for destructive arson, murder, frustrated murder, attempted murder, and robbery, issued by judges in Dinagat Island and Surigao City.

Taken from Salinas’ possession were a hand grenade, 6 Nokia 1133 cellphones with assorted SIM cards, 25 reserved battery packs, P80,700 ($1,623) in cash, a drafted map of Misamis Occidental, a Lenovo tablet, a pair of rubber boots, a 12-inch bolo, various prepaid cards, and a National Democratic Front (NDF) identification card.

In an interview, Morales said Salinas hitched a ride in his Starex van and was arrested when law enforcers flagged down the vehicle they were riding in.

‘Brazen violation’

According to a police report, Morales is the secretary of the Secom Sendong, the largest unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) Western Mindanao Regional Party Command.

Morales earlier said the arresting team was only after Salinas but handcuffed him, his wife, and driver when they refused to leave the suspect.

The bishop also heard Salinas telling investigators that he is a consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF).

In his statement, Fajutagana said, “The arrest and the filing of trumped-up charges against Bishop Morales and his companions are but a brazen violation of their rights.”

Morales, he said, is being suspected of being a ranking leader of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the CPP.

“Whether or not this is true is beside the point, especially for the [IFI] which has strong ties with the poor and the oppressed in their struggle for just peace. Our Church is a sanctuary to those who are persecuted and those in need,” Fajutagana said.

He added, “It breaks the heart of our clergy and faithful to see [Morales], a newly-consecrated Bishop, handcuffed in a police detention facility.”

Fajutagana said the IFI is supporting Morales and his companions “as we pray for him that they may endure this test and never waiver from his commitment to serve God’s people.” –

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