Manila, Philippines - The women and men, priests, clergy and lay workers of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) denounced the illegal arrest and detention of Amelia Pond, 64 years old, Regional Coordinator of RMP Southern Mindanao Region and a teacher and research-documentation officer of Salugpongan Schools in the region. The incident happened today August 19 at 12noon while on her way out from the Living the Gospel Renewal Center after attending the 3-day RMP National Assembly in Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Lahug, Cebu City.
“We condemn this attack on Ms. Amelia as this is harassment to us supporters of the farmers and indigenous people in the countryside under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” stated by Sr. Elenita Belardo, RGS, newly appointed National Coordinator of RMP.
RMP SMR just like any other regions in Mindanao was known for supporting and helping the Lumad people to build schools. But these Lumad were also primarily target of military and para-military attacks that resulted to increasing numbers of human rights violation and bakwet (evacuees).
Ms. Amelia was riding a taxi with 3 others, when 4 elements of the CIDG 3 men and 1 woman blocked the taxi and she was forcibly made to get out of it. The female CIDG held her by the arm and asked her with different names but she denied. This was followed by more questions showed photographs, and a supposed warrant of arrest which they did not make her read the warrant. One of Amy’s companion insisted that she should read the warrant for her to know what her case is but despite Amy and her companion’s insistence they failed to let Amy read the warrant. Amy vehemently resisted this illegal arrest.
One of the CIDG men went near Amy and inserted two ID’s in her bag. Then they asked her to get in the car. She refused to go with them but they forced her. In this instance, Sr. Francis Anover and Sr. Marisol Garduno who were also in the center immediately went to her rescue. They were brought to Camp Sotero in Cebu City.
Fabricated charges of double murder and frustrated murder in Compostela Valley under the name of Adelfa Toledo are imputed on her.
“It is disheartening that even under the Duterte presidency, we are in danger,’ which we thought would end with the Aquino regime,” the church leader said.###
The RMP is a national organization, inter-congregational and inter-diocesan in character, of women and men religious, priests and lay. We live and work with the peasants (farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples and agricultural workers).