Urgent Action Response Alert
April 14, 2022
Following intense red tagging, Aldeem Yañez of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) was arrested in an early morning raid at his home in Cagayan de Oro on Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022. The arresting officers claimed to have found a pistol, a grenade, rifle grenades and “subversive documents” to substantiate the continued detention of Aldeem Yañez, the standard tactics used against activists and critics of the Rodrigo Duterte government.
Yañez is presently detained at the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Office in Camp Evangelista, Barangay Patag, awaiting court inquest for alleged offenses against the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, which are bailable.
IFI Supreme Bishop Rhee Timbang deplored the arrest of Yañez in his house in Barangay Iponan on alleged trumped-up charges as another attempt to link his church and members to the ongoing communist rebellion in the country.
Timbang said Yañez is a good-standing IFI member who served as a volunteer to the IFI Visayas-Mindanao Regional Office for Development (VIMROD) and the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, a network that seeks the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front.
In 2018, Yañez had been arrested after the police in General Santos City tagged him and 12 other human rights workers and leaders of progressive groups as alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA). A local court later released Yañez and his co-accused, who became known as “the GenSan 13,” dismissing the frustrated murder and murder cases filed against them.
Yañez and 17 other activists were arrested again and brought to Sibagat town in Agusan del Sur in 2020. They were among the 555 persons charged with alleged involvement in an NPA attack on a CAFGU patrol base in Sibagat town on December 19, 2018. Judge Fernando Fudalan of the Bayugan City Regional Trial Court later quashed the arrest warrants against Yañez and 533 other activists.
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) commends the daily indignation rallies staged by the IFI at 5:30 p.m. at the IFI National Cathedral along Taft Avenue in Manila.
ICHRP condemns the wrongful arrest and detention of Aldeem Yañez as a violation of his civil and political rights, and a violation of the collective right of the Filipino people to a fair democratic election process. It is clear that Yañez and others in Mindanao have been persecuted by the NTF-ELCAC in recent years and this arrest is part of a pattern of absurd fake charges. We call for his immediate release and an immediate and impartial investigation to identify the perpetrators who should then be prosecuted.