Monday, August 01, 2005

Related Stories to the Visit of Church Officials to Eastern Visayas

Dear Friends:

Please find below and attached files on the report and news write up
re:
Pastoral Ecumenical Delegation Visit, July 15-20, Philippines.


Protestant churches hit RP human rights record
By DJ Yap and Christian V. Esguerra
The Philippine Daily Inquirer (Thursday, July 21, 2005)

FOR a full minute, the nine-year old boy could not speak. But when the
words
finally came, so did the tears.

The soldiers told him to start digging his own grave with his bare
hands.
They might as well kill him now, since he would probably join the New
People’s Army anyway.

It was an empty threat: The boy was later freed. But the trauma has
remained
weeks after that ordeal.

The boy’s experience under the hands of the military was just one of
several
human rights abuses recorded by a group of visiting Protestant church
leaders in the small community of Han-Ayan in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Thirteen Protestant bishops from the US, Australia, Canada, Japan,
Germany
and four other countries were in the country from July 15 to 20 on the
invitation of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines to
document human rights abuses against church workers, lawyers, activists
and
journalists.

They represented the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, an
organization
of 347 churches, and the Christian Conference of Asia, an organization
of
116 churches.

The fact-finding mission sent teams to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac,
Eastern
Visayas and Surigao.

Their finding was the same everywhere: “Large-scale human rights
violati0ons
including police and military intimidation, illegal detention, and
torture
of peasants working on the farms of rich landlords are being
perpetrated.”

In a statement, the delegation urged the government “to put an
immediate end
to the pattern of killings that, for many Filipinos, are reminiscent of
the
Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.”

The delegation urged President Macapagal-Arroyo to order an impartial
investigation and ensure the safety of civilians.

“We demand justice for the all victims of massive human rights
violations
under the Arroyo watch,” Sharon Ruiz-Duremdes, NCCP general secretary
said.

The NCCP said the “wave of killings of peace advocates in the
Philippines
including church people have become a cause for alarm among prominent
international church leaders and organizations.”

The Reverend Stephen Sprecher from the United Methodist Church in the
US
said in some way, they were the Arroyo administration should be held
accountable for the increase in human rights violations.

The human rights group Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of
People’s
Rights said 411 people have been killed in extrajudicial executions,
assassinations, and massacres since Ms Arroyo took office in January
2001 up
to the present. Karapatan documented 97 cases of frustrated killings
and 56
cases of “enforced disappearances.”

There were 139 torture cases involving 245 individuals, while cases of
illegal arrests numbered 406, involving 1, 563 people, according to
Karapatan.


World Council of Churches slams country’s rights record
By Oliver Teves
Associated Press Writer

MANILA (AP) – An international Protestant delegation on Wednesday
slammed
the Philippines’ human rights record, comparing killings, torture, and
harassment in the campaign against communist rebels to abuses committed
under late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The delegation from the World Council of Churches and the Christian
Conference of Asia urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to order an
impartial investigation and ensure the safety of civilians.

They also pushed for a resumption of peace talks between the government
and
communist rebels to end more than 30 years of Marxist insurgency.

In a statement, the delegation urged the government “to put an
immediate end
to the pattern of killings that, for many Filipinos, are reminiscent of
the
Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.”

The 13-member delegation, along with seven Filipino Protestant church
leaders, visited northern, central, and southern provinces to interview
alleged victims of human rights abuses, mostly in areas where the
communist
insurgency is active.

They did not visit the strongholds of the country’s Islamic separatist
rebels, who have made similar accusations.

The Reverend Stephen Sprecher from the United Methodist Church in the
United
States said they were “deeply concerned by the increase in human rights
violations that have occurred during the last few years and in some
way, the
administration needs to be made accountable.”

The conduct of the anti-insurgency campaign is alienating the
government
from the majority of poor Filipinos, said Bishop PerOtto Gullaksen from
the
Church of Norway.

“In its fight against terrorism, the Army seems to be making enemies of
the
poor people,” Gullaksen said.

The leftist human rights group Karapatan recently reported that 411
people
have been killed in extrajudicial executions, assassinations, and anti-
insurgency operations since Arroyo took office in January 2001. In
addition,
130 people have been tortured, allegedly by government forces, the
group
said.

Wilhelm Soriano of the government’s Commission on Human Rights said its
own
invstigation showed most victims belonged to left-wing organizations,
but it
has “not yet validated” that those responsible were members of the
military,
government militia, or vigilantes.

He said it was unfair to compare Arroyo’s administration to the Marcos
government.

“There is no basis for comparison because during the Marcos time, it
was a
dictatorial regime,” he said.

He did not disclose any figures for victims.

Published in Manila Bulletin and The Philippine Star (Thursday, July
21,
2005)

***

Pastoral Ecumenical Delegation Visit to the Philippines, July 14-21,
2005

Press Release
Manila, July 20, 2005

Prominent church leaders from the Philippines, both Protestant and
Roman
Catholic, accompanied by thirteen partners from Australia, Canada,
Germany,
Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Norway, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and the United
States, visited Eastern Visayas, Hacienda Luisita and Mindanao July
14-21,
2005. Together they heard and saw for themselves the degree of human
rights
violations and demonstrated a strong international solidarity with the
victims and families of victims. This pastoral delegation of the World
Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA)
visited
the Philippines at the invitation of the National Council of Churches
in the
Philippines (NCCP).

The delegation is an expression of Christians and churches sharing
their
pain and support for each other as members of one body. The scripture
calls
on them to be prophetic and to promote justice and human dignity. The
delegation is acutely aware of the fact that the majority of the
Filipino
people have yet to enjoy life in all its fullness. Poverty, political
repression and other human rights violations are the daily plight of
the
majority of the 85 million Filipinos.

The NCCP, the Filipino churches, human rights organizations and other
people’s movements have been monitoring the recent spate of killings of
church workers, human rights defenders, journalists, justice advocates
and
others in the Philippines. They have urgently appealed to the
Government of
the Republic of Philippines (GRP) to put an immediate end to the
pattern of
killings that, for many Filipinos, are reminiscent of the Ferdinand
Marcos
dictatorship. The WCC wrote on March 31, 2005 to President Gloria
Macapagal-
Arroyo, calling on her to set up an independent investigation into the
atrocities being committed and to bring the perpetrators of these
crimes to
justice. The CCA wrote to the President on May 23, 2005 raising similar
concerns.

The pastoral delegation listened to many moving testimonies from the
victims
themselves and from their families. Members of the clergy of the
Philippine
Independent Church and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines
have
been murdered. Hundreds of others especially the indigenous communities
have
been terrorized, brutalized and maimed by security forces. Large
scale
human rights violations including police and military intimidation,
illegal
detention, and torture of peasants working on the farms of rich
landlords
are being perpetrated. These patterns of gross and systematic human
rights
violations were further clarified and confirmed by a wide cross-section
of
people’s movements, human rights organizations, local religious
leaders,
councilors and members of Congress.

Once again, as in the past, churches and church workers serving the
poor as
Christ commanded, as well as community leaders and organizations are
being
labeled as "subversives." Once again, counterinsurgency against the New
People’s Army is being advanced by the officialdom as an excuse for
atrocities and bombings.

Among the root causes of the current turmoil in the country are: the
inadequacies of state institutions such as the judiciary, inequitable
distribution of resources which traps many Filipinos in abject poverty,
and
the monopoly of transnational corporations and other foreign interests
in
resource exploitation. These shortcomings remain pervasive and the
promise
of full enjoyment of human rights is still far distant.

At the meetings with the Executive Secretary of the Office of the
President,
Mr. Eduardo Ermita, and with Commissioner Wilhem D. Soriano of the
Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, the pastoral delegation
expressed serious concern at the deterioration in the observance of
human
rights. It raised issues regarding the safeguarding of the people’s
civil,
political, social, economic and cultural rights, the need for the
resumption
of peace talks with the NDF, and the lack of the government’s response
to
the reports and recommendations of the Commission on Human Rights.

The key recommendations of the delegation include:
· an immediate and impartial investigation of all recent extrajudicial
executions
· revision of the government’s military strategy for resolving the
insurgency to insure the safety of non-combatants and to avoid
indiscriminate destruction of property
· resumption of the stalled peace talks between the Government of the
Republic of Philippines and the National Democratic Front
· assertion of civilian control of the military which must be held
accountable for its actions and which must be in accordance with
international humanitarian law
· promotion of agrarian and land rights reform which preserves the
integrity of creation and honors the ancestral domain of the indigenous
peoples
· reform of the judicial system to guarantee its independence and
integrity
· repeal of the 1995 Philippine Mining Act
· cessation of the practice by the government and military of labeling
those who work for justice and for the poor as subversives or
communists
· request to the WCC to bring the delegation’s concerns to the
attention of the appropriate UN instrumentalities and mechanisms
· continuation of an ecumenical ministry of presence with the victims
of human rights violations; this includes information sharing about the
situation, education, advocacy for just economic policies and rendering
humanitarian assistance;

The report of the pastoral delegation will be circulated widely by the
National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Christian
Conference of
Asia and the World Council of Churches. The recommendations of the
delegation will be transmitted to these ecumenical bodies and the
delegation
members’ own churches. They will continue to collaborate on all
followup
activities.

In conclusion, we the members of the Pastoral Ecumenical Delegation
wish to
say to the suffering people of the Philippines:
· we admire your persistence, your courage and your hope in the face
of grave injustices
· we are one in Christ with you
· we will stand with you, we will advocate for you, and
· we pray God’s peace and justice for you.




***

NEWS RELEASE # 1

July 20, 2005

NCCP AND INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS SEEK JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF HUMAN
RIGHTS
VIOLATIONS UNDER ARROYO

After seeing and hearing testimonies of gross violations of human
rights in
the Philippines under the Arroyo administration, church leaders
including
bishops and theologians from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan,
Korea,
Germany, Norway, Sri Lanka and the US are calling on the Philippine
government to conduct “an immediate and impartial investigation of all
recent extra-judicial executions”.

The 13-member group, which goes by the name, Pastoral Ecumenical
Delegation
Visit (PEDV), sent teams to Hacienda Luisita, Eastern Visayas and
Surigao
for a dialogue with the victims and their families, church leaders,
local
officials as well as military officials in the affected areas including
Brig. Gen Jovito Palparan of the Philippine Army presently based in
Samar.

The PEDV was hosted by the National Council of Churches in the
Philippines
(NCCP).

“While the NCCP has joined Filipinos in demanding accountability of
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the issue of electoral fraud, we
likewise demand justice for all victims of massive human rights
violations
and desecration of human lives under the Arroyo watch,” Ms. Sharon Rose
Joy
Ruiz-Duremdes, NCCP General Secretary stated in a press conference in
Quezon
City today.

Even before the Gloriagate issue broke out, the wave of killings of
peace
advocates in the Philippines including church people have become a
cause for
alarm among prominent international church leaders and organizations.
Thus,
from July 15-20, 2005, a delegation of church personalities and leaders
put
together by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian
Conference
of Asia (CCA) came to the Philippines on a fact-finding mission and
pastoral
visit with families of victims, churches, and organizations who bear
the
brunt of intensifying political repression in the country.

“We express our distress at the lack of care and respect by government
and
military towards the Filipino people, the very people they are called
to
serve. We are horrified to realize that while we have traveled
thousands of
kilometers to come and listen to the pain and hope of local Filipino
communities, no such effort is made by those in national government in
the
Philippines. Failure to listen seriously to the needs and hopes of the
poorest citizens is surely a failure of morality and governance. We
feel
that Filipinos are thrown back to the dark days of Martial Law where
summary
execution, illegal arrests and detention became common occurrence,” the
report from the PEDV team that went to Mindanao stated.

The PEDV urged the “revision of the government’s military strategy for
resolving the insurgency to insure the safety of non-combatants” as
well as
the “resumption of the stalled peace talks between the Government of
the
Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of
the
Philippines (NDFP).

The Geneva-based World Council of Churches is an umbrella organization
of
347 member churches throughout the world, while the Christian
Conference of
Asia, which is based in Hong Kong, is a related regional organization
of 116
churches throughout Asia.



Reference:

Ms. Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes
General Secretary – NCCP
9228141




NEWS RELEASE # 2 July 20,
2005

SECRETARY ERMITA:
“HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS ARE BOUND TO HAPPEN”


A 13-member delegation of international church leaders has wished to
personally dialogue with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and convey
urgent
appeals of international church groups regarding the wave of killings
of
activists including church workers in the country.

The group, through the National Council of Churches in the Philippines
(NCCP), requested for appointments with President Gloria Macapagal-
Arroyo
and officials of the Department of National Defense and the Commission
on
Human Rights. The international guests wanted to follow up the letters
of
their respective churches to the Philippine government and personally
ask
Pres. Arroyo to render justice for victims of the killings and human
rights
violations.

However, Pres. Arroyo delegated Secretary Eduardo Ermita, who, in turn
assigned Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor to dialogue with the group.
Eventually Secretary Ermita showed up at the meeting and explained that
in a
situation where there is a presence of a strong insurgency movement,
like
the Philippines “human rights violations are bound to happen, but of
course,
I am not saying this as a justification.”

At the meetings with secretary Ermita and with Commissioner Wilhem D.
Soriano of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, the
pastoral
delegation expressed serious concern over the deterioration of human
rights.
It raised issues regarding the safeguarding of the people’s civil,
political, social, economic and cultural rights, the need for the
resumption
of peace talks with the NDF, and the lack of the government’s response
to
the reports and recommendations of the Commission on Human Rights.


Reference:

Ms. Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes
General Secretary – NCCP
9228141

Pastoral Ecumenical Delegation Visit to Eastern Visayas Reports

REPORT OF THE PASTORAL ECUMENICAL DELEGATION
VISIT TO EASTERN VISAYAS
July 15 to 18, 2005

1. Introduction:

At the invitation of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, a Pastoral Ecumenical delegation under the auspices of the World Council of Churches and the Christian Conference of Asia visited the Philippines from the 14th to the 21st of July 2005. Apart of the delegation visited Leyte and Samar to listen, learn and dialogue with a cross section of the people about increasing incidences of political repression and human rights violations. Amongst others, the delegation met church leaders, representatives of people’s organizations, families of victims, local government authorities and political parties, and military officials.

The delegation heard stories of pain and anguish, of brutalization and sufferings as a result of illegal detentions, torture, intimidation, hamletting and food blockades, and extra-judicial killings allegedly committed by the military. A top political leader expressing his anger and frustration at the situation shared with the group a long list of documented offenses committed by the military from February 2005, since Brig. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. was posted in Eastern Visayas as the commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Camp Lukban, Brgy. Maulong, Catbalogan, Samar. The general had launched and publicly announced a crusade to wipeout alleged enemies of the state particularly the New People’s Army and alleged front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines within six months to one year. This political leader had already brought the situation to the attention of the Philippine congress and the Office of the President of the Philippines. But so far, his appeals seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Commenting on this, the General stated to the group that there were 1,000 NPA’s operating in the area. The political leader said it is on record that General Palparan reported that there were only 300 cadres of the NPA operating in the area during a congressional inquiry on the state of human rights in Samar. The insurgency, according to the political leader we met had rather became strong because of the army’s repressive policies and actions of General Palparan. He had instilled fear amongst the poor and marginalized people by branding them as supporters and agents of the NPA’s. According to them, General Palparan has become the best recruiter for the NPA. They urged that Palparan should leave the region and let the people live in peace. The people had and could take care of themselves as they were doing in the past.

2. Militarization and Resistance

The Philippines has a long history of militarization, and the institution of the military has always been used by the establishment to protect the economic and political interest of the elites. The country has no visible external enemies and there is hardly any justification to maintain a huge military establishment. The military projects increasing activities on part of its “internal enemy’” in order to justify its growing defense budget. There has always been a close cooperation between the military establishments of the United States and the Philippines. Besides funding the, U.S. has supplied arms and provided trainings for the Philippine armed forces. Since September 11 and the U.S. War on Terror, this cooperation has increased. It has provided the Philippine military to revive and intensify its activities particularly in the rural areas where victims have been largely the poor and the socially marginalized.

The increase in military operations has inevitably resulted in resistance by the people in the rural communities with civil society groups and people’s organizations taking up the cause of the poor and marginalized communities. There is increasing awareness of the human rights violations that are being committed in the name of fighting terrorism and protecting national security.

On the other hand, there is the presence of armed revolutionary groups like the New People’s Army who has waged more than thirty years of struggle in the region. With the ongoing armed conflict, the life of civilians remains under threat and they become easily caught up between the lines in such a highly militarized situation.

Individual lawyers, clergy, journalist, worker and peasant leaders who have taken the courage to confront the military have been victimized and brutalized and in some cases eliminated. In the case of the province of Samar and Leyte (which has an obvious deterioration of the human rights situation February 2005) the most prominent cases of extra-legal killings are that of Atty. Felidito C. Dacut on March 14th 2005 in Tacloban City, and Rev. Edison C. Lapuz on 12th May 2005 in San Isidro, where no clear results of the investigation have been reported till today. They are just two among the many other cases that have been brought to the attention of the team by the Philippine Churches during this visit.

3. State Institutions and Accountability

The political institutions in the country are dominated by a small group of elites who have used these institutions to protect their economic interests. Presently, the system provides opportunity only to those who are rich and powerful to participate in the political process. In the Philippine congress, despite the fact that the large majority of the people are poor, their representation remains very minimal even with the introduction of the party-list system. The electoral system and process is flawed. It is badly in need of reform.

The judicial system is overloaded with litigation. It is slow and provides little opportunity for redress of grievances of the common people. Inefficiency and corruption in the investigative process of law enforcement agencies has further hampered the judicial process. As the group heard from the families of the victims, there has been no progress in tracking down the killers of their loved ones. The culture of impunity seems to have become all pervasive, as due process is ignored. Gen. Palparan told the group that, “at times we have to by pass the due process because we want to take this fast track”.
It seems also to be obvious that the malfunctioning of state institutions like the judiciary, unjust access to resources such as land for people in the rural areas where many people suffer extreme poverty, the exclusion from any profits and benefits related to the exploitation of natural resources also by foreign investors are some of the underlying root causes of the conflict.

Under the Constitution, it is basically the responsibility of the State to protect the people, and to ensure there are no human rights violations. This can happen only if there are checks and balances on the actions of the Executive. These can only be provided by a conscientious legislature and independent judiciary that is open to the voices and concerns of the people and vigilant in protecting their interest. Only then can the state be accountable.

4. National Resource Extraction and Geo politics

Eastern Visayas is a critical economic engine of the country. It is endowed with rich agricultural land that produces much of the countries coconut, sugarcane, rice, tobacco, root crops, fruit and coffee. However, according to the research of the Regional Peasant Alliance of the Eastern Visayas, 70 to 80% of the regions farmers do not own the land they till. This resulted to the long peasant resistance to landlessness and further land acquisitions and marginalisation of peasant farmers by the state, a handful of family dynasties and foreign investors.

The virgin forests of this region have long been harvested by commercial logging companies, leaving large tracts of bare land and vulnerable to erosion.

The Eastern Visayas is endowed with abundant marine resources. However, these are dominated by major foreign commercial companies and local fishing magnates such as the Samar Sea, Carigan Bay, Maqueta Bay, Sognod Bay, Leyte Gulf, San Pedro Bay, Cabali-an Bay and the Philippine Sea.

It is also here where the geothermal power reserve that supplies the National Power Corporation and the Philippine National Oil Company is located. Yet, the local people of this area pay the highest electricity rates, with many still without access to electrical power.

More importantly, are the mineral deposits found in the Eastern Visayas. These include chromites, manganese, zinc, silver, gold, bauxite, nickel and copper. They pose a major mining interest and attraction to foreign mining companies.

This is why militarization of the area (supported and unchallenged by the government) is the main source of the violation of people’s human rights. The military [is set up to] protects ‘economic investments’, and not the people of the land. Peasant farmers who struggle for life giving economy, and civil and church groups who support these struggles are named as enemies of the state and must be eliminated. Power is concentrated in the hands of the few and structural/systemic violence, which includes the power of the military, is the order of the day.

It is critical for our analysis to name the ideology behind this market focused economic development as rooted in the neo liberal economic thinking, which claims to be without alternative, demanding an endless flow of sacrifices from the poor and from creation. We see here in the Eastern Visayas the impact of economic globalization and its global geo politics backed by the dominant ideology of globalization. This ideology also referred to as Empire ensures that political, economic and military is power vested in one center, and that this power penetrates the internal political, economic, cultural and social structures of a particular country such as the Philippines.

Today’s dominant leaders will not hesitate to use whatever power and force to suppress the people and the world when their objectives of economic exploitation are threatened or hindered.


5. The Poor and Poverty

We heard all over again the stories and experiences of the poor and sensed their vulnerability. In situations of structural injustices, violent conflicts, harassment and subtle intimidation, the poor of any society suffer first and most and increasingly.

Poverty is not an accident. Neither is it a punishment for lapse or sin. Poverty is a reality because power and greed are also realities. Poverty prevails because of unjust economic structures and systems sustained by those who benefit most from economic resources and profits.

Since the poor are deprived basic economic resources and political representation and power, any solution to the evil of poverty must strive to restore these rights and energies to the poor.

The resilience and spirituality of the poor expressed in the community they share through simplicity, sharing and courage must play a central role in this restoration of socio-economic justice. Whatever new models of community that emerges should ensure that this spirituality is not lost.

6. An Integrated Spirituality

The presence and leadership role of several clergy persons and lay people whom we met, clearly demonstrated a Gospel spirituality of prophetic urgency and pastoral care.

The prophetic presence challenges those entrusted with power and who abuse this power, to be accountable and transparent and to initiate and sustain reforms for the common good. It also articulates a voice on behalf of the voiceless. This includes the most afflicted, marginalized, and poorest of any society. .
Pastoral presence hears the cries and suffering of the afflicted, accompanies them and provides solidarity through identification.

Needless to say, this integrated ministry is not easily understood or appreciated by all in the wider faith community. If approached through dialogue however, this ministry ironically has tremendous potential to teach and nourish the whole community in our common journey in Christ.

Since such an integrated spirituality entails risks it requires the good will, prayers and support of the wider community.


7. Justice, Peace and Reconciliation

In its witness and mission by the death and resurrection of Christ, the Church is called upon to engage in wholistic ministry. This requires peace and justice and includes healing and reconciliation. The tendency to take entrenched sides in circumstances of conflict must be anticipated and countered through the discipline of self-scrutiny that Christ taught.

Consequently, the church in the Philippines must at the same time address justice issues and also be an agent of reconciliation. This balanced consistency, discerned in Christ, is a unique contribution the church offers to both oppressors and the oppressed.

The Biblical vision of Shalom requires the church to strive towards a better life of equality, dignity, and a sharing of all God’s resources amongst all God’s people.

All conflicts end when enemies becomes sisters and brothers. The church in the Philippines and indeed Asia and the world must live and work in rhythm between the Lord’s table where we are nourished in Christ, and the peace table where we nourish one another through dialogue and negotiations.

8. Conclusions / Recommendations / Affirmations


In view of this situation, the conflict cannot be solved by a military approach. There is a clear need for dialogue between the conflicting parties and a comprehensive approach by the government in order to enable the rural communities to enjoy their full civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights. Such an approach might only become successful if the need for real structural reforms will be addressed by the Philippine legislative and executive powers.

Without effective measures taken by the government to implement and safeguard the fundamental rights of the people and to develop their livelihoods, to end impunity, to establish the rule of law, to guarantee a just and fair share of access to resources and to revise the existing legislation such as e.g. the mining act from 1995 accordingly there will be no peace and security.

a. To the Philippine people, the congregations and churches

We warmly thank the people whom we met during our visit to Samar and Leyte for their hospitality and their open sharing with us. We assure them of our deep respect and stay in solidarity with them.

We are grateful for the pastoral care Christian congregations in Samar and Leyte, the NCCP and the churches in the whole country are extending to the Philippine people especially those who are marginalized and we encourage them in their prophetic witness and firm solidarity with the poor.

b. To the Philippine Government and legislative bodies

We ask the Philippine Government to take immediate action to impartially investigate the cases of reported extralegal killings in the province of Samar and Leyte and to take concrete steps to protect the lives of church workers, human rights defenders and journalists.

We further more call upon the Philippine Government to revise its military strategy to solve the conflict in the province and to resume peace talks with the NPA.

We encourage the government and legislative bodies to consider seriously the implementation of real structural reforms in the country (e.g. land reform, reform of the judicial system) in order to address the root causes of the conflict such as the extreme poverty and marginalization of so many people in the rural areas as well as in the cities of the Philippines.

c. To the churches worldwide and the ecumenical bodies

We ask the World Council of Churches, the Christian Conference of Asia, the partners of the NCCP and the Philippine Churches all over the world to stay in solidarity and prayer with the Filipino people.

We call upon our churches and ecumenical bodies to strive for the global implementation of human rights and to remind governments and international private business on their responsibility with regard to development and human rights.

We ask our churches and ecumenical bodies to take up the suffering of the Filipino people in their prayers statements and action and by doing this to support the Philippine Churches in their efforts to stop human rights violations and to work for a better quality of life and for the liberation of the people.

In Jeremiah 22,16 we hear the prophet saying: “He saw to it that justice and help were given to the poor and the needy and all went well for him”. In this word of the bible the sovereign of the country of Israel, the former King Josiah is praised while he respected the rights of the poor and to ensure that they could enjoy them. As people of God with these words we are called to stay with the poor and to remind those in power to work for justice for the needy.



Mr. Clement John, World Council of Churches
Dr. Jochen Motte, United Evangelical Mission, Germany
Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, Anglican Church of Sri Lanka
Ms. Omega Bula, United Church of Canada
Rev. Dr. Xiaoling Zhu, United Church of Christ-USA and
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ, USA & Canada)
Mr. Tony Waworuntu, Christian Conference of Asia
Bishop Elmer Bolocon, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Atty. Emilio Capulong, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Rev. Ferdinand Mercado, Iglesia Evangelica Metodista En las Islas Filipinas

20 July 2005