“IKAW NA ANG SUSUNOD!”
(You are next!)
“MAMAMATAY KANG KATULAD NG IDOL MO SI ALBERTO RAMENTO!”
(You will die and suffer the same fate like your idol, Alberto Ramento!”
These were the two separate text messages received by Revd Fr. Randy Manicap Sr. on Sunday morning, June 24, 2018, right after saying the Holy Eucharist. The death threats were sent from phone number +639666717822.
Fr Manicap is the Parish Priest of Santa Anna, Piddig, Diocese of Laoag, Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
Prior to this morning’s incident, Fr. Manicap has reported having been followed by motorcycle riding-in-tandems at various occasions and subjected to surveillance and intimidations by alleged state security forces within the past two weeks.
On June 11, Fr. Manicap hosted an ecumenical meeting in his parish and noticed unfamiliar faces watching from outside the church perimeters.
On June 12, while attending the National Priests’ Organization’s (NPO) Regional Executive Committee, he received a message from his parish staff that suspicious-looking men were asking for his whereabouts.
On June 14, a parish staff noticed several people repeatedly trying to look for Fr. Manicap to set a schedule for a church service.
On June 16, while going with his son to a sports competition in Laoag, he noticed being followed by a riding-in-tandem from his parish in Tiddig to YMCA Laoag. The riding-in-tandem followed him back to his parish and stayed for 30 minutes in a local store that is 50 meters away from the church building.
Following these series of perceived acts of harassment and intimidation from unknown elements, Fr. Manicap were advised by his parish staff and church members to limit his visibility and activities outside the parish.
On June 23, Fr. Manicap were again followed by a riding-in-tandem to and from another ecumenical meeting in Solsona, Ilocos Norte.
Fr. Manicap said he has strong feelings that those following him and placing him under surveillance were state agents. The form of harassment and intimidation employed against him follows the pattern of military intelligence operations.
From December 10, 2017 towards the end of January 2018, Fr. Manicap has also received death threats from anonymous numbers and subjected to similar surveillance, and acts of harassment and intimidations.
Fr. Manicap is actively involved with people’s organizations in Ilocos Norte which include Amianan Salakniban, Ilocos Human Rights Advocates – Karapatan, Ilocos Norte Ecumenical Group and the People’s Solidarity Against Large-Scale Mining – Ilocos Norte.
The Ramento Project for Rights Defenders (RPRD) has already documented a dozen cases of clergy harassment in six dioceses in the northern and central Luzon regions.
Following the spate of killings of Catholic priests in the regions, RPRD is alarmed and expresses concern for the life and security of IFI priests who are engaged in the work of social transformation.