Gov’t freezes UCCP Haran deposit for ‘terrorism financing’

Mar. 31, 2021

DAVAO CITY – The United Church of Christ of the Philippines Southeast Mindanao Haran Center, which houses the displaced Lumad families from Talaingod and Kapalong, is dismayed by the freezing of its bank deposit by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

The freezing of the bank account was announced in a news release by the government’s Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday.

The PNA story said the AMLC, through Resolution No. TF-36 dated March 12, 2021, ordered the freezing of three UCCP Haran bank deposits amounting to P600,000 and the property under the name of Brokenshire Integrated Health Ministries for violating Republic Act 10168 known as The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act.

A similar move was made by the AMLC on ten bank accounts of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in December 2019, due to allegations made by former rebels that the RMP finances communist rebels in Mindanao.

The move surprised Bishop Hamuel Tequis, head of the UCCP Southeast Mindanao jurisdiction, who told Davao Today that they only knew of the freeze order when their checks for the payment of the center’s water and electricity bill were no longer accepted.

The local branch of the Philippine National Bank, which holds the UCCP Southeast Mindanao’s deposit, was unable to explain the freezing of the account to them, the bishop said.

Tequis dismissed the claim of PNA that the center had multiple accounts amounting to P600,000, citing that they only have P70,000 at present since the center has stopped the operations of its dormitory which cater to students and transients since the pandemic started.

The PNA story said government security officials alleged that the Lumad were “indoctrinated” by the Lumad schools “in the guise of formal education,” and when they arrived at Haran were “being used as a force multiplier in protests actions, “exposures” to rebel areas where they will be recruited to join the armed group.

“We are dismayed by the accusation that we are supporting terrorist activities. The Church has always been committed to its mission in serving the people in need. We are continually striving to help people understand the mission of the Church especially that the indigenous peoples in the Philippines need our help,” he said.

The Haran UCCP Mission House located in Fr. Selga Street, Madapo Hills has served as sanctuary to the indigenous Manobo people from Talaingod in 1994 who were displaced by the logging expansion of Alsons. Since 2014, around 600 Talaingod and Kapalong Manobo have sought the church’s sanctuary after their schools and community came under attack in the government’s anti-insurgency drive.

Tequis said Haran’s establishment in the 1980s is part of their church’s effort to generate income for the Church programs under the Southeast Mindanao Jurisdiction which covers seven conferences from Surigao, Agusan, whole of Cotabato and Davao del Sur including Davao city and parts of Sarangani area.

“Our Church has declared in 1990 that all places and properties are sanctuaries of peace. Having the Lumads is carrying out the mission of the Church to serve the marginalized,” Tequis said.

Tequis said the bishops in their jurisdiction will discuss with lawyers on how to address this matter.

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