We are deeply saddened, and furious, on the way Ozamis City PNP treated the arrest and detention of the IFI Bishop of Ozamis, The Right Revd Carlo Morales, and his company. They were treated as common criminals; in fact they are placed in the detention cells together with the common criminals. His lawyer was barred to be present during the inventory of the materials allegedly confiscated from them and likewise from talking to him initially last night. Bishop Carlo and company are scheduled to face inquest this morning for the ridiculous allegation of illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions.
We have been monitoring the case and in touched since last night with Ozamis Clergy, and with Bp. Antonio Ablon, the Bishop of Pagadian, and Fr. Christopher Ablon, the Mindanao Coordinator of PEPP and of Lumad Ministry. Just this morning, the Ozamis Clergy led by Fr. Hardy Alfeche were able to visit and talk to Bp. Carlo and company in their detention cell, brining them foods and clothes. Bp. Carlo, Darling his spouse and Doming, his aide and driver, are all fine except that they feel terribly harrassed and not given the due courtesy.
We requested the Ozamis Clergy and faithful last night to be around in Ozamis City PNP Station to keep their vigil to ensure that nothing bad befell to the bishop and company. They will return this morning to continue to troop and mass up in support of their good bishop. The neighboring clergy and faithful of Oroquita and Pagadian Dioceses are expected to join with them.
We hope to mobilize human rights lawyers from Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) to assist their legal needs. We also seek moral support from our concordat and partner churches and ecumenical network on this incident which is clearly a case of harrasment against church people. The incumbent Obispo Maximo, The Most Revd Ephraim Fajutagana, will soon issue an Official Statement condemning this blatant attack against the church and its leaders, especially during this time where the IFI is taking active role and robust participation in the peace process.
We ask the bishops, clergy and faithful of the IFI in other parts of the country and abroad to keep praying for Bp. Carlo and company, and to seek ways to help in their immediate release; and most of all to be vigilant against the fascistic efforts of the security forces of this state to silence and cow progressive churches and its leaders.
May 12, 2017
Bishop Diocese of Surigao