Detention of two UCCP Pastors and three other human rights defenders in June

United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Pastor Benjie Gomez was arrested on June 6, 2021, in Nothern Zamboanga. Gomez, administrative pastor and Lumad advocate, had an arrest warrant for alleged murder. He was already arrested upon trumped-up charges back in 2014. „Two of the 2014 charges came with one new allegation. […] However, those two charges that were recently filed again have actually been mentioned in a 2015 dismissal order.“

On June 25, 2021, Carmilo Tabada and Nathaniel Vallente Bernales were arrested upon trumped-up charges and planted evidence in Bohol. Tabada is a barangay councilor and Farmers Development Center’s (FARDEC) program coordinator for Bohol, and is a UCCP Pastor. Both are being accused of being members of the TABADA criminal group and communist-terrorist group. „The same method of serving search warrants at dawn raids was used“ in the context of the massacre known as the „Bloody Sunday.“

The same Friday morning peasant organizers Dana Maria Marcellana and Christian Relao were arrested in Laguna, according to rights group Karapatan without search or arrest warrants. Both are provincial organizers of Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK)in Quezon and Laguna.

“Clearly, their arrests are part of a systemic and desperate crackdown on dissent under the guise of the Duterte government’s brutal counterinsurgency campaign,“ said representatives of Karapatan and demanded  – as well as UCCP, FARDEC and other groups – their immediate release.

Statements on the detention of UCCP Pastor Dan Bulacio, arrested on May 2, 2021: by Bärbel Kofler, the German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, by Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte – Philippinen (AMP).

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