UCC and Disciples join in December 8 ecumenical statement decrying Philippines Massacre

As members of the Asia Pacific Forum (APF), representing churches and ecumenical organizations in North America, we are horrified by the massacre of at least 57 civilians by an unidentified militia on November 23, 2009 in the Maguindanao Province of the Philippines. We offer our prayers and sympathies to the victims of the violence, their families and communities, and join the international demand for justice on their behalf. We call on the Government of the Philippines to fully investigate the murders and prosecute those responsible. We appeal to the international community and to political leaders in the United States and Canada to hold the Government of the Philippines to account for this incident and for the safety of its people.

Asia-Pacific Forum Statement Condemning the November 23, 2009 Massacre in Maguindanao, Philippines

As members of the Asia Pacific Forum (APF), representing churches and ecumenical organizations in North America, we are horrified by the massacre of at least 57 civilians by an unidentified militia on November 23, 2009 in the Maguindanao Province of the Philippines.  We offer our prayers and sympathies to the victims of the violence, their families and communities, and join the international demand for justice on their behalf.  We call on the Government of the Philippines to fully investigate the murders and prosecute those responsible. We appeal to the international community and to political leaders in the United States and Canada to hold the Government of the Philippines to account for this incident and for the safety of its people.

The heinous murder of civilians, mostly supporters of Toto Mangudadatu, including his wife and other female relatives, who were killed en route to submit his name as a candidate for election in May, is the worst act of political violence in recent history in the country.  That the massacre also included numerous journalists and lawyers is an assault on the foundations of democracy in the Philippines.  In preparation for the 2010 national elections, authorities in the Philippines must ensure democracy and the rule of law, and do its utmost to protect the rights and security of all its citizens.

We join our partner in Christ, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, in condemning both the violent assault and the climate of official impunity that contributes to such violence against civilians.  In recent years our churches have consistently spoken out against politically-motivated violence and human-rights violations linked to the Philippines government, police and army.  In the 2007 ecumenical report "Let the Stones Cry Out" (http://www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/other-ecumenical-bodies/05-07-let-the-stones-cry-out.html) church advocates joined international human rights organizations in calling attention to systematic abuses by the Philippines military and political authorities, namely the political targeting of civilians through the Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) counter-insurgency program, and the abduction, torture and extrajudicial killings of nearly 1000 civil society leaders, including numerous pastors and church leaders. Despite the investigations of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston and pressure from U.S. and Canadian governments calling on the Government of the Philippines to stop human rights abuses, such violence persists with rampant impunity for perpetrators and disregard for the rights of individuals.

For justice in Maguindanao we call on the Philippine government to do the following:

  • To create an independent, impartial international body to investigate the November 23, 2009 massacre and prosecute those responsible;
  • To dismantle the private, political armies in Maguindanao and other provinces;
  • To rescind immediately the Executive Order 546 created in July, 2006, which allows local politicians to convert and fund their private armies as legal entities or force multipliers in counter-insurgency program.

We pray for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre and continue to stand with our partners as they minister to the people and speak out for the rights and protection of civil society in their country. Justice must be done in this case and on behalf of the people of the Philippines.

Co-Chairs of Asia Pacific Forum

Andrea Mann
Global Relations Coordinator
Partnerships, Anglican Church of Canada 

James Vijayakumar
Southern Asia Area Executive
Global Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in USA and
Canada, and United Church of Christ, USA

Asia Pacific Forum Members

American Baptist International Ministries
Anglican Church in Canada
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in USA and Canada
Church World Service, USA
The Episcopal Church, USA
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
KAIROS Canada
Mennonite Central Committee, USA
Presbyterian Church in Canada
Presbyterian Church (USA)
The Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, Canada
Reform Church in America
United Church of Canada
United Church of Christ, USA
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society, USA