The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Joel Yagao, a lay worker of the RMP – Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) and Dominiciano “Dioning” Muya, chief agriculturist of RMP -Southern Mindanao (RMP-SMR). Both of them have been charged with trumped up charges and been languishing in jail for years.
Joel Yagao, 44 years old, married with two children was illegally arrested on September 8, 2013 at the compound of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Villanueva town, Misamis Oriental. He was charged with double murder and multiple murder in relation to the encounter that took place in 2013 between the New People’s Army (NPA) and Mayor Ruthie Guingona’s convoy in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental.
Based on report of RMP- NMR, Yagao was active in community-based agrarian campaigns in the Eastern part of Misamis Oriental and a dedicated missionary in supporting the farmers groups such as Balingasag Farmers’ Association and Misamis Oriental Farmers’ Association (MOFA). Moreover, two farmers, Modesto Bernas and Reynaldo Gundaya were also detained same as Yagao’s cases.
In addition, Dominiciano Muya was illegally arrested in October 16, 2014 in Makilam Village, Tagum City, Davao del Norte by the elements of Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-PNP) and was accused as a high-ranking leader of the NPA with a P4.8 million bounty on his head. At present, he is detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) compound in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. According to RMP-SMR, he was charged with illegal possession of firearms, multiple murder, double frustrated murder, robbery with double homicide and damage to properties.
Muya was teaching sustainable agriculture to Lumad students of Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLCI) and was involved in the construction of the school in Talaingod, Davao del Norte by the time he was arrested. Since 2007, Muya was an RMP staff and administered the sustainable agriculture program of STTICLCI.
According to his wife, Muya’s health is deteriorating and appealing to the authorities that he should be allowed for regular check ups and consultations with his doctor.
RMP demands Yagao and Muya’s freedom as they’re only helping the marginalized indigenous people and farmers and it is condemnable for servants like them to be subjected to unimaginable cruelty. Thus, we call on various sectors to join the struggle to free Yagao and Muya and a stop to political persecution of church workers.