CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- After spending more than a year in a prison, Bishop Carlo Morales, of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) or the Philippine Independent Church, is ready to get back to work and fulfill his priestly mandate, according to a colleague.
“He is determined to continue with his ministry,” IFI Bishop Antonio Ablon said in a phone interview Sunday evening.
Ablon said Morales did not show any hint of being physically drained after being imprisoned in Ozamiz City jail for more than 10 months after he was charged with illegal possession of explosives following his arrest with three other persons on May 11, 2017.
“Judging from his body language, Bishop Carlo seems very eager to come back to his work, but it will depend on the result of this talk with the [IFI] Supreme Bishop,” Ablon said.
Ablon heads the IFI Mindanao Bishops Conference (Minbiscon), which Morales is a member.
Morales, who heads the Ozamiz diocese, was with his wife Maria Teofilina, driver Isadome Dalid, and Rommel Salinas, an alleged Communist rebel but who identified himself as a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant.
Judge Edmundo Pintac of Ozamiz City Court ordered Morales’ temporary liberty on March 15 after posting a P200,000 bail.
In its statement, the Minbiscon, quoting a portion of the judge’s decision, said the bail was granted because the prosecution’s evidence presented at the bail hearing was “not strong enough to convict accused Bishop Carlo Morales of the charge against him.”
In his physical absence as the Ozamiz bishop, Ablon said the IFI clergy from nearby areas took turns in performing religious functions for Morales such as officiating holy mass and other church activities.
But, Ablon said, Morales was very active even under incarceration as he was able to regularly meet with his priests and even officiate religious activities inside the prison.
“Despite what happened to him, Morales is still the bishop of Ozamiz. He was not replaced,” Ablon said.
He said Minbiscon has suggested to Morales to take a leave of absence for a month “to reflect on his life after his time in prison.”
The decision if Morales will be reassigned or given new task will depend entirely on IFI Supreme Bishop Rhee Timbang, Ablon added.