By Roy Lagarde

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos | FILE PHOTO

A Catholic bishop came out in support of the 62 human rights activists who were arrested by authorities in Bacolod City.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos called the arrests alarming, amid reported “irregularities”.

“We express alarm of these unfortunate incidents that aggravate the culture of fear and silence in our island of Negros,” Alminaza said.

Police said those nabbed were supposedly undergoing “indoctrination” during simultaneous raids on the offices of militant groups on Oct. 31.

A number of firearms were also reportedly seized during the raids but those arrested denied the accusations and said the weapons were “planted”.

Various groups have earlier called on Supreme Court to investigate the actions of the Quezon City judge who issued search warrants for the advocacy groups’ offices and homes in Bacolod and Manila.

While 32 activists have already been freed, the prelate noted that those arrested are all members of “red-tagged” organizations.

He said the authorities’ actions were disturbing since most of those summarily killed in the Negros island were also red-tagged or accused of links to the communist rebels.

“We, therefore, join the call for an impartial investigation of these arrests, for due process and the rule of law to be upheld,” Alminaza said.

A few months ago, the four bishops of Negros made a unified call to stop the killings in the region and to end the “culture of fear”.

Bishop Alminaza reminded the authorities and concerned organizations “to address the root causes of the unpeace in our midst”.

“A military solution is not the way to peace,” he added, as he called on the public to end the “culture of fear and silence”.

“Only Jesus’ commandment of loving God and our neighbor, especially the weakest in our community, is the way to a just and lasting peace,” he said.