Posted: November 24, 2006
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES: Statement on Extrajudicial Killings in the Phils.
CPA ACTION ALERTS & UPDATES:
Posted at the WCC website (Read)
central committee adopted the following statement on extra-judicial killings
in the Philippines:
1. The Philippines has continued to suffer political turmoil since the mid-1980s when people power toppled the military dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos. The present government headed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came into power in 2001 with promises of bringing about reform in the political and economic systems of the country. The legitimacy of the government’s election continues to be challenged, and under the pretexts of the “war on terror” and a new emphasis on internal national security, the Philippines has become more and more militarised, to an alarming degree. There are now many calls, including from the churches, for the President to relinquish office.
2. Sadly, the promises of reform have not been addressed, let alone fulfilled. The Philippines remains a country with stark divisions between the haves and the have-nots. Political power is still exercised by a ruling elite supported by the military. The so-called “war on terror” has served to strengthen the hold of the government and the military over the people, as development and military funding from overseas governments is provided in return for the government’s support of the “war on terror”. The longstanding communist insurgency is used by the government as an excuse for action against any persons and groups who seek to stand with and for the poor.
3. Since 2001 more than 740 people who have worked with and for the poor in the Philippines have been assassinated in extrajudicial killings. They include journalists, lawyers, leaders of people’s organizations, human rights activists and church workers. The killings have intensified since 2004. Twenty one church workers, including 9 pastors and priests, have been killed since 2001. Most of the attacks have been committed by unidentified men shooting from unmarked vehicles or motorcycles. Paramilitary groups armed by the military, and even members of the military and police, have been implicated in these killings. While a few suspects have been detained briefly, no charges have yet been issued in relation to these killings. All cases remain unsolved. The government has allowed these crimes to take place with impunity, and is failing in its statutory obligations to protect the right to life and to maintain the rule of law.
4. In 2005 the National Council of Churches in the Philippines invited
the World Council of Churches and the Christian Conference of Asia to
send a delegation of church leaders to investigate the situation. Thirteen
church leaders drawn from ten countries visited regions in the Eastern
Visayas, Luzon and Mindanao, meeting with the families of those killed,
with groups working for human rights, with church leaders, and with government
representatives. The key recommendations of the delegation included:
6. While the Philippines government has recently announced a commission of inquiry into the extrajudicial killings, churches in the Philippines remain unconvinced of the seriousness of the inquiry. The churches seek an independent inquiry rather than one made up of government appointees. They propose that the Inquiry should be in the hands of a group of esteemed individuals from different walks of life such as church leaders, academicians, lawyers, legislators and leaders of peasants and workers.
7. The World Council of Churches central committee meeting in Geneva,
Switzerland, 30 August to 6 September 2006: