THE bishops of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), also known as Aglipayan Church, will converge Monday, May 15, in Ozamiz City to hold a prayer rally to call for the release of a detained bishop.
IFI Bishop Carlos Morales, along with National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Rommel Salinas, were arrested by the military and police at a checkpoint in Barangay Gango, Ozamis City Friday, May 12, for allegedly possessing illegal firearms and a grenade.
Morales and Salinas are currently detained at the Ozamis City Police Station.
IFI priest Christopher Ablon said bishops from across the country are expected to arrive on Monday in Ozamiz to support the detained bishop.
In a statement released on May 12, the highest bishop of IFI, Obispo Maximo Ephraim Fajutagana, denounced the "warrantless arrest" of Morales, who is the bishop of the Diocese of Ozamiz.
"The arrest and the filing of trumped-up charges against Bishop Morales and his companion are but a brazen violation of their rights," Fajutagana said.
"Their arrest is plain harassment and an act of state aggression. The Iglesia Filipina Independiente demands from the government to drop the charges and release Bishop Morales and his companions immediately," he added.
Morales said Salinas only hitched a ride with him when they were arrested. Authorities found P80,700 cash, SIM cards, 25 battery packs, and six mobile phones from Salinas' backpack.
Also arrested were Morales’ wife, Maria Teofilina, and driver Isadome Dalid. Both were freed on Friday, May 12.
Assistant City Prosecutor Noel Boter has found probable cause to charge Salinas and Morales with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition but found no grounds to detain Dalid and Morales' wife.
Boter said there is nothing in the records that would show Maria Teofilina and Dalid conspired, expressly or implicitly, with Salinas and the bishop.
Salinas is said to be covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, which is an identification system that protects individuals involved in the peace negotiations between the Philippine Government and NDFP.