Author Archives: philpeacecenternet

On Fabricated Charges Filed Against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines

Rural Missionaries of the Philippines
Press Statement

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.

Reference:

Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Leadership Team

Sr. Rebecca Pacete

0956 330 9580, FB Page: @RMPNational

NCCP Supports call of Sen. Legarda to resume GRP-NDFP peace negotiations

National Council of Churches in the Philippines
August 31, 2022

Quezon City: The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), welcomed the call made yesterday of Senate President Pro Tempore, Loren Legarda, to resume the peace negotiations between the the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, NCCP General Secretary stated, “Sen. Legarda’s call for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and her statement that believing an ideology which may be different then the majority does not make one a subversive, is a breath of fresh air amid the toxic atmosphere brought about by speeches and public discourses that sow hate and war”.

“The NCCP has always championed principled dialogue over the negotiating table to resolve the 50-year-old armed conflict in the country and fully support Sen. Legarda’s call for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and to review the Anti-Terrorism Law”, Bishop Marigza said.

“We also fully appreciate her remark about former President Fidel V. Ramos and his contributions to the peace process in the country. Even though Pres. Ramos was a soldier, it was during his term when The Hague Joint Declaration for the GRP-NDFP peace process was signed and became the basis and the agenda for the formal peace talks”, Bishop Marigza added.

Bishop Marigza also stated, “former President Ramos was a devoted member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and was known to be the first and only Protestant elected President of our country. We are very proud of his legacy on peace building and his role in restoring democracy in our country”.

Sen. Legarda raised the call after Senator Francis Tolentino, in his privilege speech, floated the idea of requiring government officials to declare in their Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) who among their family members are members of or affiliated with “terrorist organizations.”

“The NCCP considers the proposal of Sen. Tolentino as dangerous and unjust since it requires public officials to adjudge their relatives as ‘subversive’ or ‘terrorist’ without due process on the basis of mere guilt by association,” Bishop Marigza concluded.

Peace, a continuing aspiration of Filipinos – Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace Statement

From Arkibong Bayan repost from Panay News
August 1, 2022

THE Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace, the largest network of peace groups in the country, is alarmed with the government announcement that there will be no peace negotiations.

Roughly a week before the State of the Nation Address of President Marcos, his peace adviser, Secretary Carlito Galvez, announced a recommendation from the National Task-Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, that there will be no national level peace talks. Instead, there will be localized peace talks.

CAJP stands by our position that the peace negotiations at the national level should resume. This is because the roots of the armed conflict in the country, which includes poverty, landlessness, foreign domination of our economy, inaccessibility to services and inequitable distribution of resources, demand a comprehensive and systemic response.

In this time of deepening economic crisis, where prices of basic commodities and services continue to rise, it is counter-productive to engage in a very costly all-out-war or a program like the failed localized peace talks of the past administration, that have resulted in fake and forced surrenders, harassment and other rights violations. No local New People’s Army command has actually engaged in said local talks. Instead, civilians are coerced and misrepresented as armed combatants. There have been many reports of fake surrenders, including alleged corruption related to these.

In a recent survey, “promoting peace” emerged as number eight in the top ten most urgent issues that Filipinos want the Marcos administration to prioritize. This shows that Filipinos value peace. Peace is a continuing aspiration of our people. For the CAJP, peace is not merely the silencing of guns but the reign of freedom, genuine democracy and social justice. It must be manifest through land to the tiller, decent jobs and fair wages, food on the table, housing, education, health and other social services. Peace with justice means people living in their communities without fear or threat to their lives and livelihood. Without these, the violence of the past and its manifestations in the present will continue, and escalate.

We reiterate that such a vision for a just and enduring peace requires a comprehensive and national approach. President Marcos has banked on the call for unity but there can be no unity in the country if there is unpeace. It is in this context that the Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace calls on the government to resume the peace negotiations which address the roots of the armed conflict. Much has been achieved in the negotiations, including meaningful work on the highly anticipated Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms. The parties should stay the course and advance the negotiations as well as implement signed agreements, like the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

We echo the call of church leaders in the recent summit of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform to “respect the work and agreements that have been entered into by past leaderships” and for “a stop to the practices of red-tagging, filing of trumped-up cases against dissenters, and extrajudicial killings; and the release of all political prisoners.