Statement of the Obispo Maximo
Iglesia Filipina Independiente
February 6, 2020
The Duterte government has again demonstrated its duplicitous standard in governance. While it has dilly-dallied in responding to the threat of possible wide spread of corona virus and compromised in return the health and well-being of the Filipinos, it is quick however in arresting people working for the defence and promotion of people’s rights. With remarkable haste, police officers arrested and detained yesterday at the Provincial Jail in Oroquieta City the law student Ms. Jennifer Aguhob of the Union of People’s Lawyer in Mindanao (UPLM) and Karapatan-Western Mindanao on the strength of a supposedly warrant of arrest issued on July 26, 2019 by Judge Victoriano Lacaya Jr of Regional Trial Court Branch 9 in Dipolog City Court which allegedly implicated her for a murder case. At any time today, she will be transferred to Dipolog City Jail.
Jennifer Aguhob, 40 years old, single and engineer by profession, is close to and work with the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI). She is a volunteer paralegal worker to help the IFI regarding the case of Bishop Carlo Morales who was arrested in May 2017 and detained in Ozamis City Jail for almost a year for trumped-up charges. The bishop was released in March 2018 through bail bond but the hearing of his case is still continuing. Jennifer provides assistance to the IFI in giving update on the case, in facilitating the appearance of legal counsels in court hearings and in ascertaining that documents appertaining to the case are attended to.
She also works with the IFI through its Abundant Life Program (ALP) as a volunteer facilitating with the IFI and the Subanen lumad community in pushing forward the church’s ministry to the indigenous peoples as expressed in the Mindanao Lumad Ministry (MLM). The ALP is IFI’s program intended largely to capacitate church leaders – lay and clergy – to appropriately respond to the plight and situation of the indigenous people and to equip the necessary awareness and skills of the leaders of indigenous people to consistently advance their cause and struggle particularly the promotion of their right to self-determination and the protection of their ancestral lands.
Earlier in 2017, Jennifer Aguhob was a victim of harassment and intimidation perpetrated by members of the Philippine Army represented by Major Alvin Arellano and Rex Madrid in her office at City Engineers Office, Oroquieta City. She was profiled by the said elements of her identity, involvement and where abouts since mid-year of 2017. She was named by the military as allegedly holding countless bank accounts and bringing medicines to the members of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The leadership of the IFI is greatly alarmed with the arrest and detention of Ms. Jennifer Agohob. Her arrest and detention do not only pose as grave form of harassment and repression against a paralegal worker and her fundamental rights, it likewise continues to demonstrate the proclivity of the Duterte government to weaponize the law in aid of its self-declared war waged against terrorism at the detriment of the lives and well-being of innocent people working in legal organizations in order to help the basic sectors of our society fight for and defend their basic, fundamental rights to uphold their human dignity.
We in the IFI condemn this dastard act of Duterte government’s security officers whose propensity to arrest and detain certain persons serving for the democratic rights of the Filipino people is expeditiously maddening, yet coldly stiff in serving arrests for many who were already convicted by courts and for several others who have alive warrant of arrests. A good case in point is the perpetrators of the Han-ayan Massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur that mercilessly and violently killed three lumad leaders; until now their warrants of arrests have not been served. The murderers are often seen in the company of the military and are doing errands for military officers.
We in the IFI demand for the immediate release of Jennifer Agohob and quash her case to enable her continue with her commendable work in paralegal in general and with the IFI in particular. We ask the Duterte government to stop the practice of filing trump-up cases as form of harassment and repression against those who work for the defence of people’s rights, and for the promotion of justice and peace among our people. We require the Duterte government to rescind the implementation of EO No. 70 whose virtual effect places the whole nation under undeclared martial law. We obligate the Duterte government to resume the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, as it is the government’s responsibility to give the Filipino people the genuine and lasting peace that they deserve. We ask the Filipino people to be always vigilant on defending their basic fundamental rights which are always under threat in a rising tyrannical rule in our midst.