TERRORIST TAGGING ONLY STRENGTHENS NCCP’s FAITH IMPERATIVES TO SERVE THE POOR, THE DEPRIVED AND OPPRESSED
The Promotion of Church Peoples’ Response-Hong Kong Chapter (PCPR-HK) vehemently condemns the malicious tagging of National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) as a ‘communist terrorist group’ together with other humanitarian and progressive organizations as well as the series of raids against the offices of Bayan Muna, Gabriela and National Federation of Sugar Farm Workers (NSFW) and the mass arrest of progressives, activists and human rights defenders by state forces.
These series of intensified attacks and red tagging and arrests came after Pres. Duterte warned the Filipinos on August 27, 2019 saying, “I’m serving notice to everyone that in the coming months—not really bloody—but there will be a little trouble. We have to finish it.”
The Duterte government, prior to the renewed threat laid down the grounds of using the law as a weapon to silence political dissenters and outspoken critics of corruption and abuses in the government. His failed economic and political policies serve only the oligarchs and foreign powers like China and US at the expense of impoverished millions of Filipinos. By unilaterally terminating peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF), issuing his Memorandum 32 in November 2018, ordering extra military and police to be deployed to Negros, Samar and Bicol, coupled with his Executive Order 70, institutionalize the “whole nation approach” in attaining an “inclusive and sustainable peace” that created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTFELCAC) and the Oplan Kapanatagan, a counter insurgency program targeting not the armed combatants or NPA’s but the unarmed civilians and legal democratic movements.
Weaponizing the law as the favorite method of the Duterte government led to killings, illegal arrests and detention of 62 lawyers, journalists, progressives, activists, human rights defenders, justice and peace advocates including children and minors in Negros, Southern Tagalog, La Union and Metro Manila. The PNP and the military in complete disregard for the principles of justice plant evidence such as guns, ammunitions and explosives and fabricating charges to obstruct the efforts for social justice and human rights and frighten the Filipino people.
Churches and ecumenical institutions are no exemption to the Duterte government’s dastardly attacks against human rights defenders, justice and peace advocates. The recent tagging of NCCP by M/Gen. Reuben Basio, AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence as a “communist terrorist group” is a manifestation of the Duterte regime’s tyrannical rule aiming to silence dissenting voices from various sectors of Philippine society in the midst of his failed economic policies, war on illegal drugs, impoverishment of millions and wanton corruption in his government.
The malicious tagging of NCCP is not new in the span of its 65 years of unwavering service to the poor, the deprived and the oppressed Filipinos. The council experienced the same from previous governments, many of its church workers fell victims to enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings under Martial Law yet it never cower in fear and submission. More than ever, the NCCP together with other churches and faith-based organizations will never submit nor tremble in fear in the face of the Duterte government’s fascist and tyrannical rule.
The Duterte government should realize that red-tagging and demonization of NCCP and other humanitarian and progressive organizations critical of the government resolves nothing but has prejudged the victims. On the contrary, it further strengthens the NCCP’s faith imperatives and resolves of proclaiming Jesus’ message of truth, justice and human rights and accompanying the poor, the deprived and oppressed towards God’s promise of abundant life (Jn 10:10) and liberation from evil and darkness engulfing the country as Paul’s letter to Ephesians remind us “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6: 12)
Thus, we call on to the Duterte government, that instead of red-tagging and demonizing the NCCP and other humanitarian and progressive organizations critical of his government it should examine the legitimacy of their demand and go back to the negotiating table with CPP/NPA/NDF to address the root causes of social unrest and leave a legacy of genuine and lasting peace that the Filipino people are longing for so long. ###
Fr. Dwight Q. Dela Torre