Bishop Carlos Morales. Photo: Christian Conference of Asia

The arrest and detention of Carlos Morales, Bishop of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church), for harbouring a man wanted by the police has been condemned as “appalling and a violation of human rights”, reports ACNS.

Mathews George Chunakara, general secretary of the Thailand-based Christian Conference of Asia, said in a statement that the bishop’s arrest by a joint military and police unit at a checkpoint on 11 May was “illegal”, adding that they “urge the authorities in the Philippines to release [him] immediately”.

The bishop was arrested with his wife, driver and a companion in the city of Ozamis, south-eastern Philippines. He faces charges of “harbouring a most wanted person” who is allegedly a commander for the New People’s Army.

Bishop Antonio Ablon of the nearby Pagadian Diocese of the IFI said the accusation by the police is baseless, stating that, as a religious leader, the bishop has an obligation to provide sanctuary to anyone in distress or who is being politically persecuted.

Earlier today (16 May) the Philippine Information Agency issued a statement saying that government troops had arrested “the most wanted New People’s Army commander” Rommel Salinas on 11 May. At the time of the arrest, it said, he was in a car with Carlos and Teotifina Morales, and their driver. Salinas is described as being involved in “high profile crimes against the people”.