Rural Missionaries of the Philippines
20 September 2022
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines thanks ACT Teachers, Gabriela, and Kabataan Partylists for their resolution calling the House of Representatives through Human Rights Committee to condemn the charges against Sr. Emma Cupin, Sr. Susan Djolde, Sr. Ma. Fatima Somogod, Sr. Mary Jane Caspillo, and 12 others under “financing terrorism” legislation (Section 8 of RA 101268).
We continue to appeal to the public, to civil society organizations, and to the legislature to help us expose the continuing fabricated charges filed against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. No one should misconstrue the humble and quiet pursuit of our ministries as any indication that we accept the foul and malicious accusations hurled at us by militarists and warmongers. We flatly reject such lies and smear tactics. Those who seek to besmirch our ministry, by saying it supported or financed ‘terrorism’, should be held to account; their lies will only further the suffering and poverty in marginalized communities.
Furthermore, we urge the Congress to weigh and measure how the applications of counter-terrorism legislation are likely to continue to impede the work of various humanitarian and development organizations as well as the Church missions and ministries. In light of the 53 years of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines’ work with some of the most under-served and marginalized communities of the Philippines, we have faith that Congress will recognize that these blatantly false attacks against us could easily also be foisted upon others as well.
As missionaries, we are unapologetic and unwavering in our commitment to work in poor areas, even when these areas are visited by militarization and armed conflict. We are peace builders, who seek to be participants in addressing the root causes of armed conflict and social unrest in the Philippines. Bringing services and accompanying grassroots leaders are effective methods for resolving community issues and sparking change and development that benefit the communities where we serve. Our efforts to journey with peasants, farmworkers, fisherfolks and indigenous peoples help build democracy; we do not finance ‘terrorism’.
If left unchecked, the egregious charges against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines will likely be levied against other civil society organizations. It seems that all that is presently required to persecute and attack any group working in rural areas is a fabricated testimony from supposed “rebel surrenderees.” The ramifications are terrifying for those falsely implicated by these forced and false testimonies. There is little space to disprove allegations, especially as the supposed witnesses are nowhere to be found and appear to be under the custody of the military. Even more, in the collective absence or caution of Church and CSO programs, rural poor communities will likely suffer under increasing human rights violations as well as from the loss of basic services and programs such as health, education, and relief and rehabilitation after calamities.
We pray that the Philippine Congress will recognize the predicament of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and respond accordingly to safeguard us and other humanitarian programs from false attacks and persecution under RA101268. As Rural Missionaries, we wish to continue our service with farmers, farm workers, fisherfolks, and indigenous peoples. We only seek to please God by doing our part in building a more peaceful, just, democratic, and prosperous Philippines.
Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Leadership Team
Sr. Rebecca Pacete
0956 330 9580, FB Page: @RMPNational