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Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Carlo Morales (center) and two other senior members of the IFI clergy smile after a court allowed him to post bail on Thursday. (photo from the ifi program department)

IFI supreme bishop: Duterte has lost it

THE leader of the six million-strong Iglesia Filipina Independiente yesterday issued a strongly worded statement against President Duterte, saying “he must be judged according to the law of God” for his administration’s “violation of human rights.”

The Most Rev. Rhee Timbang, IFI Obispo Maximo, issued the statement a day after IFI-Ozamiz Bishop Carlo Morales was released from detention.

Judge Edmundo Pintac allowed Morales to post a P200-thousand bailbond after prosecutors failed to convince the court that the evidence they presented against the bishop was strong enough.

On May 11, 2017, Morales, his wife, driver and National Democratic Front peace consultant Rommel Salinas were arrested in Ozamiz City and accused of illegal possession of explosive.

Morales’s wife and his driver were released the following day but the bishop and Salinas were charged and detained at the Ozamiz City Jail.

The bishop, through his lawyers, filed a motion to fix bail, and there were four   hearings held. After 10 months, the motion was granted on Wednesday.

Timbang said the IFI leadership hailed the release of Morales “but the ordeal of Bishop Morales must be continually condemned.”

Timbang said, “The Duterte regime is liable [for] the violation of human rights and he must be judged according to [the] law of God. As president, Rodrigo Duterte could not lead the people in this country in righteousness, impartiality and integrity. He has lost his moral authority to administer this nation.”

The IFI’s highest ranking member of the clergy alleged that Morales was detained on trumped-up charges.

“The act of prosecuting a servant of God based on trumped-up charges is a big injustice made to a person and to the Church that expressed solidarity for the struggle of the people and support to the peace talks between the government and the NDFP,” reads part of the statement.

He said the incarceration of Morales, Salinas and all political prisoners “is unjust and a violation of human rights.”

Timbang said that while Morales is temporarily free, the IFI would not turn a blind eye to the continuing incarcerations of arrested social activists, intensified military operations that have allegedly displaced thousands of minorities, Bangsamoro, peasants, women and fisherfolk, and the widely perceived persecution of activists tagged as “terrorists.”

The IFI leader called on citizens to stand firm in the struggle for justice and lasting peace, and on IFI members “to be in solidarity with the struggling masses, and invoke the Holy Spirit to guide us in this struggle.”

But at the same time, IFI called on the goverment “to pursue governance that leads to peace and justice,” and for it and the NDF to resume peace negotiations so they could forge comprehensive agreements on socio-economic reforms, and on political and constitutional reforms so as to put an end to the decades-old armed conflict. (hg)

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