Philippine congregation decries 'red tagging' of nun

The Society of Oblates of Notre Dame calls accusation against Sister Susan Bolanio 'baseless and malicious'
Philippine congregation decries 'red tagging' of nun

Sister Susan Bolanio of the Society of Oblates of Notre Dame, a congregation of women religious in the southern Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.) 

The Society of Oblates of Notre Dame, a congregation of women religious in the southern Philippines, decried what it called as the "red tagging" of one of its members by the military.

A social media post, believed uploaded by the military, last month accused Sister Susan Bolanio of being a communist rebel.

The nun, who is executive director of Hesed Foundation, has been active in helping tribal communities boost their livelihoods and in development projects.

In a statement on Oct. 19, the religious congregation expressed outrage at the allegation made by in a post on Facebook on Sept. 28.

The post on the social media account that runs stories mostly involving the military has since been taken down.

The military has denied it was behind accusing the nun of being a communist rebel.

Lt. Col. Jones Otida, commander of the army's 27th Infantry Battalion in South Cotabato province, said he did know where the information came from.

Sister Erlinda Hisug, superior-general of the congregation, said the allegation made against Sister Bolanio was "malicious."

"[We want to express] our strong displeasure and indignation against the baseless and unjust post," read a statement signed by four congregation officials.

The statement said Sister Bolanio is a "perpetual member" of the congregation "and as such, she has endeavored to attend to the pastoral and social needs of peoples and communities."

Sister Bolanio earlier expressed fears for her life after a list of alleged communist members in the region came out.

Asked why it took several weeks for the congregation to respond to the allegations, was told that Sister Hisug, the superior general, was out of the country and had to discuss the case online, which took time.

Several religious groups have also issued statements condemning what they described as an "orchestrated campaign" against church workers and peoples' organizations in the country.

"We cannot remain silent because. The purpose of the church [is] to minister to the poor and abused," said Sol Villalon of the Promotion of Church People's Response.

In a statement, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines said the church groups' criticism of human rights abuses could be the reason church people are being targeted.

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"We must be extra vigilant and stand together with the Filipino people in exposing and resisting state attacks against those who oppose [the government]," said the Catholic missionary group.

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