|Church leaders seek U.S. intervention in Philippines|
Religious leaders guide 400 people in a 2003 march
for peace through the streets of Davao in the war-torn southern
Philippine province of Mindanao. A UMNS file photo by Paul Jeffrey, ACT.
A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*
Feb. 27, 2007 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
Bishop Solito Toquero
U.S. and Filipino church leaders are urging the U.S. Congress to
address human rights violations and killings in the Philippines.
Specifically, church leaders are asking Congress to hold a hearing or
face-to-face meetings with a delegation from the Philippines scheduled
to visit Washington March 12-14. United Methodist Bishop Solito Toquero
of Manila is a delegation member.
During its Feb. 26-27 meeting in New York, the governing board of the
National Council of Churches approved a resolution supporting a
congressional hearing or “other meaningful measures that address the
deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines.”
The Rev. Bob Edgar, a United Methodist and chief executive of the
National Council of Churches, has contacted Sen. Barbara Boxer,
D-Calif., and Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., about meeting with the
“The ecumenical delegation from the National Council of Churches of
the Philippines will be in the United States to speak on behalf of more
than 800 persons killed in the Philippines since 2001,” Edgar said in
his letter to Boxer.
“The number of political assassinations, I am told, far surpasses all
twelve years of the renowned Marcos dictatorship. Targeted in the
killings are journalists, lawyers, community leaders, pastors and even
the former Supreme Bishop of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, an
As noted in the council’s resolution, political killings are on the
rise in the Southeast Asian nation. “According to the churches in the
Philippines, in the history of their country there has never been such a
high incidence of clergy killings. There are indications of government
complicity in these killings, which seem to be confirmed by the impunity
enjoyed by the perpetrators of this violence.”
The Rev. Bob Edgar
Edgar told United Methodist News Service that the religious
delegation has a two-part agenda. “The first is to tell the people in
the Philippines that the U.S. government cares,” he said. The second
part “is to kick the system in Washington” for a serious response.
Because the U.S. government is friendly with the Philippine military, it can demand that abuses be stopped, Edgar said.
A report into allegations of extrajudicial killings in the
Philippines said there is evidence to show that military commanders were
responsible for "allowing, tolerating and even encouraging" such
killings, according to Ecumenical News International.
Pressure from the international community, along with public outcry,
led President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appoint a commission in August
2006 to probe more than 800 political killings since 2001, ENI reported.
The 86-page document was completed in January, but the Arroyo
government did not release the report until Feb. 22 after an appeal was
made by United Nations human rights special rapporteur Philip Alston.
“A basic responsibility of governments is to protect its people,” the
NCC resolution declared. “The Philippine government has failed to do
so. It is now up to the international community to intervene on behalf
of the Philippine people.”
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
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