Allegations of Philippine Corruption and Bribery, Urges UCCP Bishop Council to Take Action

Allegations of Philippine Corruption and Bribery, Urges UCCP Bishop Council to Take Action

Allegations of Philippine Corruption and Bribery, Urges UCCP Bishop Council to Take Action

In light of allegations of corruption and bribery in the appellate Court, the UCCP Council of Bishops make a pilgrimage to the Court of Appeals to demand justice and freedom for Pastor Berlin Guerrero who was detained nearly one-year ago.

Today the Council of Bishops of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) is leading a Pilgrimage Walk for Justice and Freedom of Pastor Berlin Guerrero to the Court of Appeals.  A prayer vigil-action in front of the Court of Appeals will be conducted. 

“We believe that God is just and that our lives are in God’s hands; so we are praying for the freedom of Pastor Berlin Guerrero.  However, we are also very concerned that with the recent corruption allegations in the Court of Appeals, Pastor Berlin may not get a fair hearing on his pending case.  We are here to remind justices and citizens alike that we remain vigilant in Pastor Berlin’s case and that all are accountable to God for our conduct,” shares UCCP General Secretary Bishop Eliezer M. Pascua. 

Pastor Berlin Guerrero has been detained for almost one year and three months on a trumped-up charge of murder.  He was abducted on Sunday, May 27, 2007 as he left his church in Malaban, Binan Laguna.  Blindfolded, handcuffed, and beaten, he was brought to a so-called “safe house” where he was tortured and accused of being an officer of the communist party in Cavite.  After this torture, Pastor Berlin was brought to the PNP Camp Pantaleon Garcia in Imus, Cavite.  Only when his lawyer arrived was a faxed copy of a warrant of arrest shown; it was later ascertained from the PNP that elements of the Naval Intelligence Security Forces handed Pastor Berlin to them at the camp.  Pastor Berlin Guerrero remains under detention and is currently in the Cavite Provincial Jail awaiting a decision on the quashal (throwing-out) of the trumped-up murder charge against him.

The UCCP Council of Bishops is also delivering a letter to the Court of Appeals asking for a speedy trial.  After the Regional Trial Court of Justice Matias M. Garcia II in Bacoor, Cavite denied a Motion to Quash the murder charge, the UCCP, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Ecumenical Bishops Forum, Union Theological Seminary,  the Kilosbayan Foundation and Bantay Katarungan Foundation took the case to the Supreme Court. 

 “Due to the lack of probable cause in the murder case and the human rights that have been violated, we joined together to bring the matter directly to the Supreme Court for the sake of Pastor Berlin Guerrero.  Senator Jovito R. Salonga joined as lead counsel.  We all feel that this case is a worthy struggle; the human and civil rights of all Filipino people are at stake,” asserts Bishop Pascua.

The case was before the Supreme Court for ten months, after which they remanded it to the Court of Appeals on the basis that facts must be adduced and that the Supreme Court is not a “trier of facts.”  It is currently under Justice Romeo Barza, 12th Division. 

“We are dismayed that the process is taking so long.  Every day that Pastor Berlin is detained is another day that justice is denied to him.  We understand in new ways what languishing in jail is—one of our vibrant church workers is doing his best to minister to other prisoners in the jail, but he could be more productive if he were given his due freedom. His family and church members are unduly suffering his absence as well.  Justice delayed is justice denied,” comments Bishop Dulce Pia Rose. 

“And now we have to worry about the corruption scandal allegations facing the Court of Appeals and the potential distraction or implications this may have on Pastor Berlin’s case.  It is very hard to attain justice, but we will do our utmost to keep the attention of the court on his case.  Our prayer for Pastor Berlin’s freedom must be matched by our best actions to appeal for justice,” adds Bishop Jessie Suarez.

If the Court of Appeals will decide to dismiss the Information for murder against Pastor Berlin Guerrero, he can be immediately released.  This is the hope and prayer of the Council of Bishops of the UCCP.  However, if the Court of Appeals does not decide in favor of Pastor Berlin he will stand trial on the trumped-up murder charge. 

“It will be very disturbing seeing a pastor, who has committed his life to God in the service of God’s people, standing trial for murder.  But, it’s really not so different than the story of Jesus and His disciples in the Bible.  We hope and pray the case of murder will be quashed and that justice will prevail,” says Bishop Pascua.  

Reference:  Bishop Eliezer M. Pascua, General Secretary