[CCA] The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has condemned the arrest and detention of the Bishop of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church) – Bishop Carlos Morales last week. Bishop Morales was arrested with his wife, driver and a companion at a checkpoint in the village of Gango in Ozamis City in the Philippines.
The Christian Conference of Asia is a fellowship of churches and ecumenical councils; its General Secretary, Dr. Mathews George Chunakara, said in a statement: “The CCA considers the illegal arrest and detention of a religious and spiritual leader like Bishop Morales appalling and a violation of human rights.” Dr. Mathews George Chunakara called for the immediate release of Bishop Morales and his companions. “It is unfortunate that Bishop Morales has been accorded with such maltreatment. Despite introducing himself as a bishop, he was illegally arrested, handcuffed and detained in a crowded holding cell in the city’s police station.”
The bishop is facing charges of “harbouring a Most Wanted person”, who was travelling with the bishop in his car and is an alleged member of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
While condemning the arrest and detention of Bishop Morales, Bishop Antonio Ablon of the nearby Pagadian Diocese of the IFI said that the accusation of the police against Bishop Morales was baseless. He stated that as a religious leader, the bishop has an obligation to provide protection or sanctuary to any person who is in distress or politically persecuted.
Members of the church held a protest outside the police station to call for the release of the bishop and his companions. The IFI is a member church of the CCA and the World Council of Churches (WCC).