“Their behaviour was very suspicious,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “If they were on official business, they should have the courtesy first to ask permission.”
After Fr Reyes released footage from the church’s own CCTV system, which showed police recording the service from the street, DPOS chief Elmo San Diego confirmed that it was his men outside, but insisted it was just a “routine inspection” of social distancing.
Church services in Manila resumed on Saturday with health and safety guidelines set by the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Fr Reyes insisted that his parish had followed the guidelines and that the actions of the police were not routine, particularly as they entered the church to record the service during his homily.
“I think what they did was not standard operating procedure,” Reyes said. “It is an infringement, a violation of the sanctity of the Eucharist.”
A note distributed to DPOS personnel has since been circulated saying that police will “take note what churches are not following” and that next week police “will begin the arrests, even if they are priests or imams, as long as they do not follow the guidelines”.
Fr Reyes described the note as “very disturbing” and expressed concern that it would be used to crush political dissent. “We know how they can easily interpret violations according to their bias and without due process,” he said.
In 2019, Fr Reyes received death threats for condemning President Duterte’s war on drugs. Fr Reyes had previously claimed that people who “do not even have anything to do with drugs” had become victims of extrajudicial killings as a result of Duterte’s policies. “We must not allow the killings, the murders to continue, ” he had said. “We must not fear and with faith stand up, speak up for the sanctity of all life.”
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