Filipino Priests Receive Death Threats from Security Forces

ICC Note: Security forces in the Philippines are accused of conducting illegal surveillance of priests and issuing death threats against them since 2017, according to Philippine Independent Church (IFI). The targeted priests are opposers of mining activities and critics of alleged human rights abuses by the government.    

07/13/2018 Philippines (UCA News) – The leader of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church), or IFI, has accused security forces of conducting illegal surveillance of priests, and even issuing death threats against them.

“We believe these death threats, and harassment are acts that only the state has the power and authority to commit,” the church’s supreme bishop, Rhee Timbang told ucanews.com in an interview on July 12.

The accusation follows claims by IFI priests, Randy Manicap and Arvin Mangrubang, from the northern region of Ilocos, that they have been receiving threatening calls and text messages since 2017.

The two are active in their opposition to mining activities in their respective parishes and are vocal critics of alleged human rights abuses by government officials.

The two priests are the conveners of the group People’s Solidarity against Large-Scale Mining in the province of Ilocos Norte.

Parish workers have also reported “suspicious-looking men” asking for the whereabouts of the priests.

“Only the government has the motive to commit this harassment,” said Father Manicap.

“They want to silence us because we are amplifying the cry of the poor against social injustices,” added the priest.

Father Mangrubang said he already fears for his life, especially after the assassinations of three Catholic priests in recent months.

“These are not just assaults against us the clergy, but a deliberate attack against faith,” said Father Mangrubang.

“We fear our parishioners might get hurt trying protecting us from this nonsensical violence,” he told ucanews.com.

A military spokesman dismissed the claims saying there was “no reason” for the government to mount a surveillance operation against the priests.

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For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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