By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The family of a church worker who was arrested in Cagayan De Oro denied the claims of authorities that there were firearms and ammunition found in his home.
Aldeem Yañez, a member of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), was arrested when combined members of the Philippine military and the Philippine National Police raided his home early morning of Sunday, April 10.
The Promotion of Church People’s Response described Yañez’s arrest as an “established pattern where authorities have planted firearms and ammunition during the operations.”
In a video uploaded in social media, Yañez’s mother, Kathleen, said that her son is known as a good man in their village and in the IFI national office, dedicating his life to serve the marginalized.
She thanked all those who are supporting their Yañez and their fight for justice and the truth.
On Monday, April 11, church groups held an online indignation rally to condemn Yañez’s arrest.
Last June 4, 2018, Yañez was among 13 activists and church workers who were arrested during a program consultation of the IFI’s Visayas-Mindanao Regional Office for Development regarding issues of farmers and the lumad communities in General Santos City, South Cotabato.
IFI priest Fr. June Mark said that the allegations against his brother is impossible because he has been taking care of their sick father at their home for the past months. “Who in their right mind will bring firearms and ammunition in this kind of situation? He also does not have a record of being a gun smuggler or drug dealer for him to bring firearms and ammunition where our parents live,” June Mark said.
“He is not a priest like me, or bishop like my other brother but he is eager to serve the people. Guitar is his most favorite instrument of proclaiming the good news as well as what we can call a weapon of resistance as an activist, not guns and ammunition as claimed by the state agents,” he said.
In a statement, IFI Supreme Bishop Rhee Timbang decried what he described as a “grave abuse of police and the military power and the cooptation of the civil courts.”
“We root this in the tyrannical rule of the present dispensation which has no regard and respect for the law, human rights, social justice and human dignity,” Timbang said in a statement.
Yañez is currently detained at Camp Evangelista, Patag, Cagayan de Oro City with charges of illegal possession of firearms.
Timbang said Yañez is in good standing as a member of the IFI. “He is active and committed in his participation to the life and work of the Church as being a consistent church youth leader in the parish, diocesan, regional [Mindanao], and national level,” Timbang said adding that Yañez also served as the national youth president of the church.
Yañez also served as a volunteer staff of Visayas-Mindanao Regional Office for Development (VIMROD), a development program of the IFI, and of Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP).
“He is a musician and songwriter of many church songs used popularly within and outside the IFI,” Timbang said.(RTS,RVO)