Philippines Christian school leader arrested and detained in government crackdown on human rights

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Police in the Philippines has arrested and detained the administrator of a Christian school in Bicol region, in what rights advocates have described as a spate of “questionable operations” designed to crack down on human rights in the island nation, International Christian Concern reports.

Pastor Dan Balucio was arrested at 3.30 am on April 4, when police and military personnel raided the Shannan Christian Academy Brgy. San Isidro, San Domingo, Albay, where he and his family and staff of the National Council of Churches all live, ICC reports.

The authorities accused Balucio of having weapons, ammunition, and a red flag in his home, ICC said. According to the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR), the Philippine government has used the tactic of planting “evidence” at the homes of rights defenders and advocates in an effort to suppress their activities. “This fraudulent modus operandi of planting evidence against rights defenders and activists in the Philippines was already exposed in the arrest of journalist Lady Ann Salem on December 10, 2020, in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila,” the PCPR said in a statement.

Following his arrest, Balucio was taken to Santo Domingo Municipal Police Station and then transferred to Santo Domingo Municipal Jail, ICC said. PCPR members are reported to be “gravely concerned for the safety and welfare of Pastor Dan.” The group has called for the immediate release of Balucio and has demanded an end to the fabrication and planting of evidence.

In a separate statement, the Karapatan human rights organization also condemned the government’s conduct toward rights advocates, saying: “ [Karapatan] deplores this spate of police and military raids, purportedly based on search warrants, as highly questionable operations meant to crackdown on dissent on human rights defenders and social activists — this time, in the Bicol Region. The patterns in these operations have become the new normal for the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their attempts to harass, threaten, and arbitrarily arrest and detain activists.”