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Monday, 28 May 2007

UCA concern for the abduction of Pastor Berlin Guerrero

Uniting Church in Australia President, Rev. Gregor Henderson, and Director of Uniting International Mission, Rev. Dr Kerry Enright have written to the Foreign Minister on behalf of the Uniting Church in Australia to express our deep concern at the abduction at gunpoint of Pastor Berlin Guerrero of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Pastor Guerrero, aged 46, was abducted on Sunday 27 May by men connected with the Philippines National Police. He has been tortured while in detention. We have asked that the Australian Government raise his case with the Philippines authorities and seek his release and encourage the Philippines government to charge those responsible for abducting him, torturing him and stealing his wife’s possessions.

The UCCP has partnership agreements with the Uniting Church in Australia.

Pastor Guerrero was traveling with his family, wife (Mylene) and three children, after leaving a local church in which he serves when at around 5:30 pm on Sunday 27 May the motor tricycle they were traveling in was cut off by a white van in front of the Seven Star petrol station at Bgy Casile, Binan, Laguna and armed men abducted Pastor Guerrero. The van had its number plates covered. The attackers stole Mylene’s bag, mobile phone, laptop and the money collected in the church service they had come from. Pastor Guerrero had a cloth placed over his head and he was beaten, punched and kicked repeatedly on the journey. He was taken to an unknown location and tortured by being beaten with fists and blunt objects and having a plastic bag placed over his head until he fell unconscious twice.

Those torturing him were able to force him to give them the names and addresses of his family, members of his church, the name of the administrator at the Union Theological Seminary and leaders of local labour right and peasant organisations.

They tortured him to extract the password for his computer and wiped off all his church, school and personal files, replacing them with incriminating files.

Pastor Guerrero was threatened with death and being burnt.

He was taken to Camp platoon Garcia, Cavite Provincial Police Office, Imus, Cavite when they finished torturing him.  He has been placed under arrest with charges of murder and sedition.

Police initially denied that he was in detention and then later, on Monday 28 May, admitted that Pastor Guerrero had been arrested.

The letter also expressed our continuing concern at the murders of Yoyoy Duhaylungsod and Renato Pacaida, members of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). It is reported that Yoyoy Duhaylungsod was murdered in January 2007 in Mindanao. Renato Torrecampo Pacaida was murdered on Friday 2 March in Digos City.

The information we have is that on Friday 2 March, UCCP member Renato Torrecampo Pacaida, aged 53, was gunned down in Digos City in front of his daughter. He was the leader of a farmers organization Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao Del Sur and leaves behind a widow and three children. He was attacked at around 10:45 am in the morning by two men on a motorcycle. They fired at him and he ran. They chased him and after wounding him three times, finished him off with a bullet to the head. The assassins used a .45 calibre pistol fitted with a silencer.  

We are encouraging the Australian government to raise these murders with the Philippine government.