Thursday, 14 November 2019

Message Of Solidarity to the National Council of Churches in the Philippines

President of the Uniting Church in Australia Dr Deidre Palmer has recorded a message of solidarity with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).

The past week has seen the Philippines Government tag the NCCP as part of "front communist organisations" it says are working to undermine its government.

In her message Dr Palmer said that "calling the work of the body of Christ terrorism is an affront to all Christians".

Dr Palmer praised the NCCP for its ongoing commitment to human rights and has written to the Philippines government urging it to review its classification.

The Filipino National Conference (FNC) of the Uniting Church has also expressed its support for the NCCP.

In a statement issued by Convenor Rev. Berlin Guerrero, the FNC condemned the “red-tagging” as an attempt to silence and discredit the NCCP and its member churches.

“This hostile allegation demeans the zeal with which we seek to live out our faith as responsible Filipino Christians, who believe that action for justice is an integral part of preaching the Gospel.”

As many as 20,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016 and began a “war on drugs.”

The FNC said its members, who grew up in Philippine churches, had witnessed the NCCP’s consistent commitment to serve vulnerable communities, including those impacted by the recent violence.

The NCCP has sent a heart-felt response thanking the Uniting Church for its support.

NCCP Acting General Secretary Ms Minnie Anne Mata-Calub wrote, “Your messages are a source of strength for us. In this time of great threat, it is easy to be disheartened, but the overwhelming solidarity displayed by all of you has bolstered our courage as we push forward in the midst of the uncertainty.”

The government's accusation against the NCCP has drawn a swift response from church leaders around the world including the World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, who strongly rejected the claim.

In his statement WCC General Secretary Dr Tveit said: “We stand in solidarity with the people of the Philippines who are mourning loved ones and living in fear of becoming the next victim. We call upon the government of the Philippines to end the war on drugs, to take measures to hold accountable those who have carried out extrajudicial killings, and to respect and protect the human rights and equal God-given dignity of all people in the Philippines."

Dr Palmer also recorded her statement on video, so it would be more accessible to ecumenical partners.