Church Leaders and People’s Organizations’ Representatives Form Human Rights Network in CARAGA Region: Paralegal and Welfare Assistance to Benefit Political Prisoners including Ben and Rita

caraga.jpgBishop Delfin D. Callao Jr and  Bishop Julius C. Dacera of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), Rev. Aldrin S. Jovita, Conference Moderator-Agusan District Conference (ADC-UCCP) and representatives from people’s organizations (POs) gathered together to set up a human rights network in CARAGA. They vowed to help in providing paralegal and welfare services to political prisoners including Benito Quilloy and Rita Espinoza.

Without the knowledge of their lawyers Benito Quilloy and Rita Espinoza were transferred last June 8 from Camp Crame to the Bayugan Police Station and to the Bayugan City Jail, Agusan del Sur three days later. Then they were transferred to Butuan City Jail in Agusan del Norte where they are detained up to now.  Being away suddenly from their relatives and friends has been a major source of their anxiety and insecurity.

One of their lawyers Atty. Katherine Panguban, visited them on June 11. She was able to talk to Bishop Callao who then promised to help establish a network for paralegal and welfare services for political prisoners. This network, set up last June 18, seeks to undertake support services for victims of human rights violations. Among these are setting up human rights desks, conducting quick reaction teams (QRTs) and providing services to political prisoners.

“Ben and Rita, despite their nascent insecurity, continue to be in high spirit, always inquiring about what’s happening with the farmers’ and indigenous peoples’ organizations in Mindanao,” said Sister Emma Cupin of the Missionary Sisters of Mary and one of their jail visitors.

Other members of this CARAGA-based human rights network are Pastor Marcial C. Calawigan, Pastor Marx Neil Torralba, Pastor Vivian Bahian, and Pastor Seler A. Fuertes from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), Rev. Junimy B. Madrona, Rev. Jelo M. Dedumo, Rev. Antonio R. Orillos and Rev. Erick H. Echaves from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), Sr. Racquel Abueva and Sr. Emma E. Cupin of the Missionary Sisters of Mary (MSM) and Ben A.Olan and Rogelio Lucio de Asis of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) – Agusan.

PO representatives who are part of the human rights network are Virgilio T. Lincona, Jomar R. Taganas and Bienvenido P. Jacob of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Eufemia C. Cullamat of Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon sa CARAGA (KASALO-CARAGA), Atel U. Hijos and Gina N. Tutor of GABRIELA-CARAGA and Renalyn G. Tejero of Student Catholic Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) CARAGA.###

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AscentPH is a national alliance of development organizations determinedly working for the empowerment of the people through poverty alleviation and promoting and defending the right to development and other fundamental human rights and freedoms.

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