Friday, June 9, 2023

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    On trumped up charges against NCCP Staff Rev. Irma Balaba and human rights defenders

    Urgent appeal for solidarity and action

    Dear NCCP friend and supporters:

    I write to you because members of our NCCP staff continue to face harassment for their human rights engagements and actions in support of the poor and marginalized.

    Rev. Irma Balaba, Assistant Program Secretary of our Program Unit on Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations (CUER), is implicated in the case for “violation  of article 267 (Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention) of the Revised Penal Code and Republic Act 10364 or the ‘Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012”. This is in relation to the Lumads (indigenous people of Mindanao) who are currently at UCCP Haran, who left their communities due to militarization. The Philippine National Police filed this case against several church people including Rev. Jurie Jaime (Promotion of Church People’s Response-Southern Mindanao Region), Sr. Stella Matutina (Panalipdan-Mindanao), Sr. Restita Miles (Rural Missionaries of the Philippines). Human rights advocates were also implicated in the case including Ms. Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of Karapatan, Ms. Honey Mae Suazo, Karapatan chapter coordinator in Southern Mindanao, and Mr. Kharlo Manano, Secretary General of children’s advocates group SALINLAHI.

    Rev. Balaba believes that she was included in the charge sheet for her participation in the Interfaith Mercy Mission on August 29-31, 2014 in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte. Most of the leaders of human rights organizations and advocates who participated in the said Mission were included in the trumped up charges.

    I thank you for your support of our previous appeal for solidarity against the harassment on the Toquero family and other staff and officers of the government employees’ union COURAGE. We thank all our partners who have sent letters, written statements and expressed their concern. We would appreciate if you could also be in solidarity with us in the same way by supporting our appeal against the harassment of Rev. Irma Balaba and other human rights defenders.

    These forms of harassment against church people and human rights advocates must stop. We continue to covet your prayers for our ongoing efforts for human rights. Thank you very much.

    Grace and Peace

    Rev. Fr. Rex R.B. Reyes, Jr.
    General Secretary
    National Council of Churches in the Philippines

    Please write to:

    H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
    President of the Republic
    Malacañang Palace
    Manila Philippines
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Atty. Leila De Lima,
    Secretary, Department of Justice
    Padre Faura Street
    Ermita, Manila 1000
    Republic of the Philippines
    E-mail: [email protected] / [email protected]

    Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire Gazmin,
    Secretary, Department of National Defense
    Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City

    Commission on Human Rights Of The Philippines
    SAAC Building, Commonwealth Avenue
    UP Complex, Diliman, Quezon City

    Write letters of concern to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Protection of the Rights of Human Rights Defenders via [email protected], and other relevant international human rights mechanisms.

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