By PAOLA ESPIRITU
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, La Union — The head of the social action of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente Diocese of Laoag expressed urgent concern on his personal and family’s safety after unknown men tailed him.
“While this is not a new experience, I still fear for my safety and much more for my family at the moment,” said Rev. Fr. Randy Manicap, Sr. in an interview over Facebook messenger.
He is the convener of People’s Solidarity Against Large Scale Mining in Ilocos Norte and a human rights advocate.
Manicap was among those who assisted martial law victims in Ilocos Norte file their claims and organize the prayer-rally against corruption in the province.
In a post in his Facebook account, the priest recounted the incident that happened on February 4, from his church at Pobacion, Piddig, Ilocos Norte to his in-law’s place in Laoag City.
“Kaninang umaga alas-sais, napansin natin ang dalawang lalaking nakaitim na jacket, nakamaong na pantalon, nakasumbrero ng blue at red, na halatang inoobserbahan ang loob ng ating kumbento (I saw two men wearing black jackets, maong pants, and red and blue caps observing the convent at 6 a.m.),” read his post.
He added that he noticed the men were wearing earpieces and when he opened the convent, they drove off on a Honda TMX bike with no plate number.
Around 4 p.m., while driving on his way to Laoag City on his van, he saw the men at Pallas Junction in Vintar town. From there, the tandem tailed him until the new bypass road near the house of his in-laws in Brgy. Sta.Maria.
“At kani-kanina lang (8pm) palabas sana ako ng bahay ng muli ko silang makita na nakahinto sa tapat ng waiting shed malapit lang dito sa bahay (Just a while ago, I was ready to leave the house when I again saw them at the waiting shed near our house),” Manicap wrote.
He said the two men appearing thrice in the day is not a coincidence but part of the continuing surveillance and threats against church workers promoting peace and social justice.
“Ito rin ay dulot ng patuloy na pandarahas sa simbahan at malisyosong pagdadawit sa simbahan bilang kasapi ng CPP-NPA-NDF (This is the result of the relentless attacks and maliciously connecting the church as a part of the CPP-NPA-NDF),” he explained.
Manicap reiterated that while the incident has brought fear, he will continue with his ministry and fight for the people’s hopes.
“Hindi and kamatayan ang magpapatigil sa dakilang adhikain ito! (Death will not stop this great cause!),” he stressed.
In June last year, Manicap and colleague Fr. Arvin Manrubang also received death threats from suspected state agents.
IFI churches and clergy are vilified and red-tagged across the country.
In a statement, the head of the Church The Most Reverend Rhee Timbang said two unidentified men on a motorcycle tailed four clergy on January 31 at the IFI’s National Cathedral in Manila. Early this week, somebody painted graffiti on two IFI churches in Cagayan de Oro City labeling the IFI as terrorist and harboring NPA.
“As a Church steeped with the nationalist and revolutionary tradition of the Filipino people and shaped and formed by its faith unto the Lord Jesus, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente – its clergy and people – will continue its prophetic witness and social advocacy for and in the interest of justice and peace and transformation of the unjust structures of Filipino society,” declared Timbang.
The cleric also condemned the “ongoing dastard and cowardice acts of violence, repression and intimidation against church people and peace advocates, we likewise continue to call for the stop of these incidents of harassment and threats.”
He appeal to the members of the church “to support the ministry of our clergy and request the congregations all over the country to pursue without letup our works of education, organizing, mobilization and consolidation.”
Timbang also directed the bishops and the clergy to “continue to strengthen our program implementation and accomplish their mission, and strongly advocate for and accompany the farmers, workers, urban poor and lumads and Moro people” in pursuing just and lasting peace. # nordis.net