Davao Church Leaders: Arroyo Accountable for Political Killings

Feb. 03, 2007

“There will be no end to political killings until this government accepts full responsibility,” one priest said. “It is hard to preach about life when there are deaths happening everywhere,” said another.

Related Items:
AnakPawis Urges Melo Commission, Govt to File Charges Vs. Soldiers
Melo Commission Allows Arroyo to Do a Pontius Pilate NDF

By Tyrone A. Velez

DAVAO CITY — A regional council of Protestant churches said this week that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should be made fully accountable for the killings of activists and those critical of her administration.

The National Council Churches in the Philippines-Southeastern Mindanao Region Ecumenical Council (NCCP-Semrec) raised this point during its interfaith forum held at the Brokenshire Amphitheatre here on Friday.

The council also raised concerns that the government’s counter-insurgency programs, called Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2, have resulted in grave abuses. They also decry that Southern Mindanao is being targeted as one of the programs priority areas.

The NCCP-Semrec is composed of mainstream churches like the United Church of Christ of the Philippines, Iglesia Filipina Independiente, United Methodist Church, and Philippine Episcopal Church.

The Reverend Rex Reyes, director of the NCCP Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations, said Arroyo must heed the Melo Commission’s recommendations to investigate military generals said to be involved in the assassination of activists.

“There will be no end to political killings until this government accepts full responsibility,” he said.

Reyes lamented that Arroyo is sending mixed signals when she declared she has “no tolerance for human rights violations” but at the same time had praised retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who is notorious for alleged human rights violations in his assignments in Mindoro, Samar and Central Luzon.

The church leaders noted rising human rights violations in the Southern Mindanao region. Two weeks ago, Amancio Carmelo, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Southern Mindanao, survived an attempt on his life in Tagum City by motorcycle-riding men.

Rahman Camile, a member of the Suara Bangsamoro partylist, was abducted last December in his house in Madaum, Tagum City, by armed men believed to be members of the military.

Pastor Jonathan Ulanday of the Methodist Church said these incidents are “turning the country into a slaughterhouse.”

“Like any well-meaning Filipino, we are concerned with what is happening to our country,” said the Reverend Joseph Casimina of the Philippine Episcopal Church. “As a priest, it is hard to preach about life when there are deaths happening everywhere.”

The council demands the prosecution of all state elements involved in the implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya.

Leaders from the Lumad and Moro groups also assailed Oplan Bantay Laya for militarizing their communities.

Datu Monico Cayog, chairman of the nongovernment Lumad group called Kalumaran, said the military treats the Lumads “no differently from wild boars as they chase us up to the hinterlands, killing and driving us away.”

Cayog blamed these incidents on mining corporations and plantations that employ the military. (Tyrone Velez/davaotoday.com)

[tags]davao today, human rights, philippines, mindanao, melo commission, political killings, protestant churches[/tags]

comments powered by Disqus