Seeking Peace with Justice in the Philippines

Seeking Peace with Justice in the Philippines

The church maintains full communion partnership with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), nurtured through Global Ministries and the various relationships created between Conference, Regions and local churches with UCCP bodies. Human rights abuses by Philippines government and military against civilians and civil society groups, including the church, remains a priority concern for our advocacy work.

We also work with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and advocacy partners like the human rights organization Karapatan in the Philippines to raise awareness and speak out on the human rights abuses suffered by the UCCP and its members and communities.

Stop the Killings in the Philippines

Recent years have seen an extraordinary number of political activists and human rights defenders extra-judicially killed in the Philippines. Reports indicate that approximately 290 such persons have been killed since 2004. These figures and the current situation in the Philippines are entirely unacceptable and require urgent intervention by the government if the killings are to stop.

In spite of massive protest locally and internationally, the government of the Philippines has not taken any significant steps to stop the extrajudicial killings. Either the government is unwilling or it is not capable of stopping such killings. It is time to resist this massive violation of human right to life, which now takes place with the government’s direct or tacit consent. We urge everyone to take part in active protests to stop these killings and to return to the democratic way of life, as in the constitution of the Republic of the Philippines. Currently, the country’s constitution, as well as the international obligations that the state of the Philippines has agreed to, remain flouted by such killings.

Advocacy Actions

The UCC General Synod 26  (2007) Resolution of Witness, A Call for Solidarity with the Persecuted in the Philippines, and an End to Extra-Judicial Killings and other Human Rights Violations, calls for solidarity with the Philippines, including advocating with more responsible U.S. policy toward the Philippines. Realizing the links between U.S. funds and the violence and repression in the Philippines, the resolution calls on the churches “to advocate that military appropriations be conditional upon demonstrated promotion of human rights.”

In support of the resolution Global Ministries provides education and updates, engages in advocacy visits, leads workshops and support initiatives and campaigns regarding Philippines advocacy concerns. Global Ministries has submitted written testimony to Congress to address US military support for the Philippines and met with representatives of the Government of the Philippines to discuss extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses against the UCCP.

A timeline of engagement includes:

  • 2011 Human Rights Tour: Global Ministries supported the visit of former UCCP Bishop Eliezer Pascua to U.S. churches in 2011 to speak about the ongoing human rights challenges of the Philippines partners.
  • The Morong 43: Global Ministries advocacy has also focused on the illegal imprisonment of the “Morong 43”—a group of health workers arrested in February 2010 on suspicion of being communist rebels, but whose case was dismissed by new Philippines President Aquino in December 2010.
  • Philippines Elections Monitoring: In May 2010 two volunteers participated as human rights monitors covering the presidential elections in the Philippines.
  • Maguindanao Massacre: UCC and Disciples leaders expressed statements of support to the UCCP and National Council of Churches in the Philippines and joined the Asia-Pacific Forum in an ecumenical statement decrying the November 23, 2009 massacre of civilians in the Maguindanao Province of the Philippines.
  • Case of Berlin Guerrero: Global Ministries invited formerly imprisoned UCCP Pastor Berlin Guerrero and his wife to attend the 27th General Synod (2009) in Grand Rapids, but U.S. visas were denied for the two based on unsubstantiated claims they represented security concerns. The UCC and Global Ministries protested, asking for an explanation and review of this decision, but communications were ignored by the U.S. State Department. The UCC had advocated for the release and investigation of the unjust capture and torture of Pastor Guerrero by the government of the Philippines, and supported both his testimony of his case to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, and testimony of ecumenical advocates about such extrajudicial abductions and abuse to the United Nations Human Rights Council.