09/04/2019 Philippines (International Christian Concern) – After posters and flyers were distributed last week branding him as a communist rebel, a pastor in southern Philippines has voiced concern over his safety.
Father Rolando Abejo of the Philippine Independent Church was depicted as a member of the communist-led New Peoples Army in Mindanao, which could make him an enemy of the state.
Father Abejo said he now has to be more careful and has been on the lookout for “suspicious individuals” who might attack him.
“I’m afraid something will happen to me and my family because of this,” the pastor said.
UCA News reports that the pastor said linking him to the rebels was meant to silence his activism. The pastor is spokesman of Movement Against Tyranny — a group opposed to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte — in the Northern Mindanao region.
It’s not uncommon for Manila to try to silence President Duterte’s critics by tagging them as communist rebels. Many church workers and clergy who are involved in human rights work have been accused of being part of communist organizations.
Father Christopher Ablon, national program coordinator of the Philippine Independent Church, decried what he said was a “renewed attack” on their members.
“The government is trying to tell church people to stop being a church, to stop being priests,” said Ablon.