Page 2, 13th July 1984

13th July 1984
Page 2
Page 2, 13th July 1984 — Philippines Church under pressure

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Philippines Church under pressure

A CATHOLIC, priest has been arrested in Manila following a police search of his house.

It was the headquarters of the basic Christian Communities programme and the National Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy which has organised demonstrations against President Marcos.

The Alliance campaigned for a boycott of May's National Assembly elections and has called for Marcos' resignation.

The police also arrested, Fr Dizon's cook, his secretary and his gardener, together with the gardener's entire family.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the troubled Philippines more than 3,000 government troops arc searching the town of Tinglayan in northern Luzon. This is said to be the operational area of the rebel priest Fr Conrado Balweg. The authorities have offered an £8,000 reward for his capture dead or alive.

The Church's involvement with basic Christian communities has often brought it into conflict with the authorities. Only last week, two foreign priests, Fr Niall O'Brien from Dublin, and Fr Brian Gore, an Australian, were released from prison on Negros Island after being acquitted of charges of murder.

The two priests celebrated their release with Bishop Antonio Fortich, the local bishop on Negros Island, who had led the fight for their acquittal. A spokeswoman for the Colombian Order in Ireland, of which both priests are members, said that they expected Fr O'Brien back in Dublin in the next week.

One of the conditions of the two priests' acquittal was that they left the Philippines within 30 days.

Despite persecution and strife, a ray of hope comes from Dipolog City. A newly-ordained priest there has been named "Outstanding Farmer of the Year", for his corn production by the Philippines Ministry of Agriculture.

The prizewinner, Fr Edgar Agura, 30-year-old parish priest of Sergio Osmena on the outskirts of the city said: "It is not me who won the contest but my people who inspired me on conceiving this idea to plant corn and help the parish to survive."

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