Church calls for resumption of GPH-NDFP Peace Talks
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines was devastated upon learning that Fidela “Delle” Salvador y Bugarin met her death at the hands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during their military operations in Lacub, Abra, between September 4-6, 2014.
“We needed to understand what had happened. After investigation, we must come to terms with a reality that, thus far, we have no witnesses who can tell us what happened. The information released by the perpetrators of Delle’s gruesome murder, namely the 41st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army is not reliable — in fact, they are clearly lies,” said Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza, General Secretary of the UCCP.
“We have several facts, for the record. First, Engineer Delle Salvador was and has been a development worker with an exemplary record that spans decades; she is a civilian. She was not a New People’s Army fighter. Second, Delle went to Lacub, Abra with an assignment for the monitoring and evaluation of development projects in the area. Third, her autopsy reveals nine bullet wounds, a crushed skull that was contributory to her death, and various other wounds.
“The events and time of her death are suspicious. All of these lead us to call for justice for Delle — as a faithful Church member who we saw in action in the ministry of the Church, we will not allow the lies of the military to be the last word. We believe that Delle was extra-judicially killed and that likely she was also tortured. This all happened during a military operation, which makes it both a violation of human rights and international humanitarian law,” said Bishop Marigza.
The murder of Delle Salvador was part of larger military operations, which also included the extra-judicial killing of Mr. Noel Viste, after he was used by the military as a human shield. The Church expresses the concern for the community of Lacub, Abra.
“The United Church of Christ in the Philippines condemns the killing of civilians, development worker Engineer Delle Salvador and Mr. Noel Viste from Lacub, in the strongest possible terms. The community of Lacub continues to be militarized, schooling of the children and many livelihood activities have been disrupted. With farmers afraid to go to their fields and people afraid to leave their house, the community is suffering. The violations of human rights and international humanitarian law perpetrated by the 41st IBPA in Lacub from Sept 4-6, 2014 terrorized the community. We call for the pull-out of 41st IBPA from the area,” said Bishop Marigza.
“We need to re-establish a climate of respect for the human rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Lacub, Abra. The violations of human rights and international humanitarian law should also be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. This cannot be done while the 41st IBPA is a present and imminent threat in the community” said Bishop Marigza.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines has decided to use this horrific tragedy as a moment to think of peace.
“Delle was a peace and justice advocate. She believed that development for poor and marginalized communities and sectors would help to build peace based on justice. That’s how she became an advocate for Indigenous Peoples. In memory of Delle, we urge, once again, the resumption of Peace Talks between the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front-Philippines. Peace talks should seek to address the root causes of the armed conflict. We invite the Filipino people to join us in raising the call for peace in our nation and to pursue peace based on justice together, ” said Bp. Marigza.
Justice for Delle! Justice for Lacub, Abra!
Bishop Reuel N. O. Margiza
United Church of Christ in the Philippines