Another priest of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente has received death threats and has been reportedly included in the infamous military hitlist, the Order of Battle.
Revd Fr Arvin Mangrubang, parish priest of St. Joseph, in Sta. Elena, Dipilat, Vintar, Ilocos Norte, told Ramento Project for Rights Defenders (RPRD) that an intelligence report revealed that his name is among those listed in the military’s Order of Battle (OB) in the Ilocos Norte.
On June 12, 2018, a state security agent confronted him about his supposed “anti-government involvements.” He was told to refrain from joining activities that support people’s issues.
Mangrubang recalled that on May 5, as he was about to leave home from Bacarra for a peace advocates’ meeting in Piddig, he noticed two unidentified men believed to be state security agents seemingly waiting for him in front of his house.
Mangrubang also received anonymous calls on his phone. In the early morning of June 17, an unregistered number called but did not speak to him.
The same number called two more times on June 18, at about 8:00 in the morning and 4:30 in the afternoon. But again, only a humming sound could be heard from the other end of the line.
A fellow priest also told Fr Mangrubang that on June 24, two motorcycle-riding men was seen repeatedly passing in front of the parish church of Santa Rosa de Lima, Sarrat, Ilocos Sur, where Fr Mangrubang used to be assigned.
In 2017, Mangrubang also experienced a series of threats and harassment incidents.
In February 2017, when he was still assigned in the Parish of Sta. Rosa de Lima, and after he hosted a series of consultation meetings of peasants and farmers belonging to AMIN, a local peasant organization, his wife found 2 pieces of live bullets at the door of the church.
That same week, while saying mass, two motorcycle-riding men stopped in front of the church. One of them alighted and threw a crumpled paper, which read, “Tumigil na kayo (stop what you’re doing).”
On December 11, a day after participating in the international human rights’ day commemoration in the IFI Cathedral in Laoag City, he received two messages from an unregistered mobile phone number saying, “Agser dengkan (Stop what you’re doing).” and “Agsagana (Be ready).”
In December 16, a day after the illegal arrest of Sherwin de Vera, a known environmental activist in Ilocos Norte province, he also received another text message saying, “Ikaw na ang susunod (You’re next).”
On January 1, 2018, he again received a text message from another unregistered number saying, “Hindi mo na aabutan ang bagong taon (You’ll never see the new year).”
RPRD condemns the string of threats and harassments to IFI priests in the Ilocos regions and expresses concern over their security and safety, including their families.
IFI Diocese of Laoag Bishop Virmilion Tagalog believes that the two priests are facing state-sponsored attacks along with other people in the religious sector supporting the legitimate struggle of the poor.
Just recently, Revd Fr Randy Manicap, another IFI priest, received death threats.
The bishop said church people are fast becoming targets of threats, intimidation, and harassment for speaking up against social and political injustices in the region.