The Department of National Defense of the Philippines (DND) has included the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) in the list of “front organizations of local communist terrorist groups”.
In adition to the NCCP, a number of humanitarian and service-oriented organizations were placed on this list, which was presented by Major General Reuben Basiao, Armed Forces of the Philippines Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, on November 5.
“Baseless And Unfounded” Accusation
In a statement, the NCCP “decries the baseless and unfounded inclusion of its name in the list […] and respectfully call on the government to seriously review and revisit the accusations and engage in peace building instead”.
“We recognize the clear threat that is now posed to the NCCP staff, member churches, associate members, and other ecumenical partners”, they said in a letter the NCCP sent to its partners last week.
The NCCP also warned that “the red-tagging will delay, or even prevent, the delivery of much-needed services to marginalized communities in the midst of disasters. On a larger scale, this will further shrink the already limited civil space”.
5.300 Suspects Killed By The Police Since 2016
In June 2019, the Philippine government rejected the United Nations call for an investigation into human rights violations for the government’s policies against drug trafficking, arguing that it was an “interference”.
According to official figures, 5,300 suspects have been killed by the police since 2016. But according to human rights defenders, the figure would be three times higher.
The NCCP explained in the letter to its partners that “within the past few days, we have witnessed attacks against civil society organizations that are critical of the government’s policies and programs. There have been raids, illegal arrests, and vilification. Before this of course, there were even killings of activists and human rights defenders”.
“The NCCP deems these moves as desperate attempts by the authorities to criminalize dissent and to weaponize the law against the people”, it said.
Christian Leaders Worldwide Condemn The Listing
The government action has been widely condemned by several international Christian leaders.
Rev. Olav Fyse Tveit, World Council of Churches General Secretary, said “red tagging in effect gives a green light to harassment and deadly attacks by security forces and militias against those listed”.
Similar statements have been released by the Christian Conference of Asia, the Action of Churches Together Alliance, Christian Aid, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany, among others.
Founded in 1963, the NCCP is an ecumenical federation of churches of non-Roman Catholic denominations.
Date published: 27/11/2019
Feature image: Press release of the NCCP after being listed y the government as terrorist. / NCCP.
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