Church sector demands release of activist in Northern Mindanao

This article is available in Pilipino

Church people, led by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), launched the Free Aldeem Yañez Movement campaign at the IFI Conference Center in Manila last April 27. They demanded the immediate release of Yañez, an IFI lay worker, who was arrested on April 10, 2022.

Yañez was arrested by police and soldiers at his house in Barangay Iponan, Cagayan de oro City. He was then charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. In August 2023, an additional case of “terrorism financing” was filed against him and 15 other church members and members of the Rural Missionary of the Philippines (RMP).

Yañez was first arrested in July 2018 along with 12 others in General Santos City. They were then accused of being involved in the New People’s Army attack on a military camp in Agusan del Sur. The court dismissed the case for lack of sufficient grounds and evidence.

Before that, he served as president of the youth organization at IFI. He is also a well-known song composer who wrote songs which amplifies his stand for human rights.

Bishops, priests, church organizations, youth and Yañez’s own family attended the gathering. The Zentrum fur Mission und Oikumene of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Northern Germany also extended support.

“This movement not only stands for Aldeem’s freedom but also calls for justice for all political prisoners unjustly imprisoned by the state,” the IFI Central Office said.

The church further explained that this is not just a simple legal fight but a moral stance. “It’s about creating a society where those who uphold the rights of the poor are recognized, not vilified or criminalized,” according to them.

Meanwhile, his family, IFI Bishop Felixberto Calang, clerics of the Cagayan de Oro Diocese, and Roman Catholic Bishop Antonio Ledesma on April 24, visited him in jail on his 50th birthday. The visitors said Yañez’s spirit is high and unbreakable despite state imprisonment for two years.

AB: Church sector demands release of activist in Northern Mindanao