DOJ on Aglipayan bishop's case: Let prosecutors decide
Posted: 2017-Aug-12 12.13.01 UTC+0800
MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II on Friday said he will let the prosecutors decide on the case filed against Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Carlo Morales who was arrested for illegal possession of explosives in Ozamiz City.
"Since I assumed stewardship of the DOJ, it has been our adopted policy and practice to give our prosecutors in the field a free hand in the discharge of their functions, particularly in the conduct of preliminary investigations and in the disposal of pending case," Aguirre said in a comment on the request letter made by religious organization Promotion of Church People's Response (PCPR) sent to his office on Friday.
He noted the letter of Fr. Rolly de Leon, co-chairperson of the PCPR, that he already instructed the National Prosecution Services (NPS) offices concerned to give him an update on the status of the case.
"Kasi ang parang lumalabas dun, addressed sa amin. But we are not in the habit of intervening cases filed before our national prosecution service. Dun sila magbigay ng evidence sa ating prosecution service, pero hindi natin maaaring lakdangan, o kaya pumunta sila sa amin para diktahan ang national prosecution service, where it is pending. We have the due process or the process rolling, para kung doon sila magsagutan, kung dadaan na sa amin, then that's the only time, kapag na-elevate na sa Office of the Secretary, dun lang kami mag-intervene," Aguirre told reporters.
In the two-page letter sent to Aguirre's office, the PCPR informed the Justice Secretary about the separate arrests of Bishop Morales and Pastor Kama Sanong of the Manobo Association Evangelical Church.
The letter was signed by at least PCPR officials led by their co-chairperson Fr. Rolly de Leon.
"We are deeply troubled by both these incidents; such conduct by state forces is beyond defense or justification. The disturbance to the lives of those victimized by trumped-up charges and their families is deplorable. Persecution of church leaders like Bishop Morales and Pastor Sanong does impact their ministry, but it has also laid bare an evil afoot among those who will fabricate charges and plant evidence against persons innocent of alleged crimes," De Leon said.
"These cases should summon the DOJ to corrective action, as even Church pastors and bishops have been victimized through the planting of evidence. To this end, we also request any advice and kind assistance that you can provide for dismissing these false charges as well as ensuring a fair and speedy process for Bishop Carlo Morales, Rommel Salinas, and Pastor Kama Sanong," it added.
PCPR said Bishop Morales was arrested last May 11 in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental for alleged illegal possession of explosives.
Morales was arrested along with Rommel Salinas, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Jasig-protected peace consultant in the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)-NDFP Peace Talks, at an AFP checkpoint.
The religious group also appealed for the release of Salinas.
While Pastor Sanong was arrested inside his house in Barangay Hinalaan, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat at 3:30 a.m. on July 11 by a composite team of the Marines Landing Battalion and the Philippine National Police. (PNA)