World Council of Churches Seeks RP Action on Killings

Manila Bulletin, September 7, 2006 | Go to article overview

World Council of Churches Seeks RP Action on Killings


Byline: LESLIE ANN G. AQUINO

In the hope of putting an end to extrajudicial killings in the country, the World Council of Churches (WCC) yesterday called on the Philippine government to disband "death squads," private militias, and paramilitary forces which the group said seem to be operating with impunity in the country.

The WCC is an ecumenical fellowship of churches which aims to promote Christian unity in faith, witness, and service for a just and peaceful world.

Since its establishment in 1948, it has brought together 348 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican, and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries. It works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

The central committee of the WCC issued the call to the Philippine government in a statement issued at the end of its meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WCC said it was prompted to issue the call due to the increase in the number of extrajudicial killings in the country committed against journalists, lawyers, leaders of people's organizations, human rights activists, and church workers.

"While a few suspects have been detained briefly, no charges have yet been issued in relation to these killings. All cases remain unsolved. The government has allowed these crimes to take place with impunity, and is failing in its statutory obligations to protect the right to life and to maintain the rule of law," the WCC said.

The WCC also took note of the ongoing political turmoil in the country despite the government's promise to bring about reforms in the country's economic and political system. The group said it has received reports that reforms have not been actually addressed in the Philippines as political power is still exercised by a ruling elite supported by the military.

Even the legitimacy of the government's election also continues to be challenged, the committee noted. With the "pretext of a war on terror" and a new emphasis on internal national security, the Philippines has become more militarized to an alarming degree, the WCC said.

"The so-called 'war on terror' has served to strengthen the hold of the government and the military over the people, as development and military funding from overseas governments is provided in return for the government's support of the 'war on terror'," the group said.

"The longstanding communist insurgency is used by the government as an excuse for action against any persons and groups who seek to stand with and for the poor," the group said. …

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