On April 10, 2022, Aldeem Yañez, a dedicated volunteer at the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), was arrested at his house in Barangay Iponan, Cagayan de Oro.
According to the Philippine police and military, a gun, grenades, and subversive documents were allegedly seized from Yañez during the raid. The arrest was based on an April 6, 2022, warrant for violation of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act. Since the start of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs” in 2016, planting weapons, and explosives as evidence on a suspect during a search operation has been a common practice by the Philippine police and military to fabricate charges for an arrest against human rights defenders.
Yañez has served as a volunteer at the IFI’s Visayas-Mindanao Regional Office for Development (VIMROD), and the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, a network that has been advocating the resumption of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
IFI members reported that Yañez has been part of a continuing red-tagging of government critics and church workers who were volunteering for community services. “Red-tagging” has long been a method by the Philippine Government to discredit human rights defenders by accusing them of being supporters of the communist insurgency of the New People’s Army (NPA). In 2018 and 2020, Yañez and other human rights activists have already become victims of arbitrary detention and were falsely accused by the Philippine military to be members of the NPA. The courts have quashed the cases twice.
Up to date, Yañez remains imprisoned. His family, friends, and IFI colleagues and supporting organizations are advocating for a fair trial and an immediate release of Yañez with all unfounded charges against him dropped.
Download (PDF): AMP Statement on the arbitrary arrest of Aldeem Yañez
Update: January, 27, 2023
Photo © Raffy Lerma