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Philippines: Bishop condemns police raid on convent

 Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan has condemned the illegal raid by the police of the convent of nuns belonging to the Contemplatives of the Good Shepherd (CGS) in Ampayon, Butuan City, in the evening of All Saints Day on Nov 1. "They admitted their mistakes so they should take the consequences for what they did," Bishop Pueblos said. Pueblos, who is a member of the Melo Commission tasked to probe political killings and other human rights violations in the Philippines, said the raid appeared to be a case of misinformation. The prelate said he would also seek intervention of the Melo Commission to also make an inquire on the incident. Police operatives at about 7pm (local time) led by Col Wilfredo Reyes raided the CGS convent to enforce a warrant of arrest against Jorge Madlos, a suspected criminal, whom he claimed was taking refuge inside the convent. Madlos is reportedly the spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Mindanao and is based in Caraga. Sr Geraldine Ortuoste, convent's acting coordinator, said Reyes' group destroyed their gate and forcibly entered the convent but realized that the place they ransacked was not the right one. Ortuoste said the police was supposed to be after the Missionary Sisters of Mary (MSM) convent where the alleged Madlos was hiding. She said Reyes apologized and admitted there had been a mistake. She said the policemen did not present search warrants but they still forced themselves into the convent. "Despite of the apology it is clear that the police operatives off-handed treatment of the Sisters show their utter lack of respect not only for the sanctity of the convent but more so for their blatant disregard of the right to due process," said Sr. Crescensia Lucero of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRWSP). "The actions of Col Reyes and his men show that indeed our government's law enforcers are the ones who violate the law by supplanting the 'rule of law' with the rule of force; a practice which continues to breed the growing culture of impunity," she said.