“We continue to denounce the endless persecution perpetrated against religious and lay workers of RMP, as we continue to condemn the evil structure that perpetuates landlessness, hunger and death.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – An officer of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) from Mindanao was arrested on Aug. 19 in Cebu City, in what her group condemned as “persecution of missionary workers.”
Amelia “Amy” Pond, 64, the regional coordinator of RMP in Southern Mindanao Region (RMP-SMR) was arrested at 12 noon by four members of the Philippine National Police Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) as she came out of the three-day RMP National Assembly in Lahug, Cebu City.
She is being detained in Camp Sotero in Cebu City on charges of murder and frustrated murder against a certain “Adelfa Toledo.”
Pond is also the research and documentation officer and teacher of the Salugpungan Schools in Mindanao.
In an urgent alert, RMP-SMR said that Pond was in a taxi with four other people and were leaving the Living the Gospel Renewal Center along Archbishop Reyes avenue, when they were blocked by three policemen and a policewoman of the CIDG, who forced themselves into the vehicle. The policewoman held Pond by the arm while the others asked her to confirm different names, which she denied.
The police proceeded with more questions, showed various photographs and eventually presented a warrant of arrest, but did not allow her to read it. The police refused to let her read the warrant, in spite of the insistence by Pond and her companions, who by then decried the illegal arrest.
“One of the CIDG men went near Amy and inserted two IDs in her bag. Then they asked her to alight the car,” the RMP-SMR alert said. As Pond resisted, the police forced her out of the taxi. By this time, two RMP nuns, Sisters Francis Añover and Marisol Garduno arrived in the scene to aid Pond and accompany her as she was brought to Camp Sotero in Cebu City.
“We continue to denounce the endless persecution perpetrated against religious and lay workers of RMP, as we continue to condemn the evil structure that perpetuates landlessness, hunger and death,” said the RMP in its Facebook account.
RMP had been repeatedly harassed by state forces as they implemented education and other social services for peasants and indigenous peoples in communities in the countryside.
In 2014, RMP-SMR’s chief agriculturist and longtime church worker Dominiciano “Dioning” Muya was arrested in Tagum city, Davao del Norte on various trumped-up criminal charges. Muya was placed on the wanted persons list of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division, with a P4.8 million ($107,000) bounty. He was arrested while canvassing construction supplies for Salugpungan schools.
Ironically, Pond was arrested at the same time that police released peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria at 12 noon, Aug. 19. The couple was freed on bail, to join the peace talks next week in Oslo, Norway. At least 17 detainees have been released since Aug. 15 as part of the Duterte administration’s trust-building measure for the peace talks.