The Killing of Christian Leaders Continues in the Philippines

Another church activist has been shot dead
in the Philippines.

Another church person in the Philippines has been shot dead by masked men on motorcycles. This is a common tactic that has taken the lives of human rights workers and church persons for the past several months and there seems to be no end to the death and suffering.

This note was sent by Mervin Toquero of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines:

Dear Friends,

Greetings of Peace in these troubling times!

In less than a month after our brother Noli Capulong was brutally killed,
another church worker of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines from
Oroquieta City (Northern Mindanao) was gunned down by motorcycle-riding
killers on Saturday, 17 June.

Tito Marata was the provincial officer of
the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and a member of the Farmers for
Agrarian Reform Movement. Tito is the 17th church activist killed since
November 2004
(please see list below).

The killing of Marata happened a
day after the Arroyo Government committed one billion pesos (USD 1 = PHP
53) for an all-out war to end the communist insurgency in two years or
less. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez on the other hand declared that loss
of lives is unavoidable if the government will crush the Reds. “You can’t
avoid collateral damage… Sometimes there are bombings and civilians might
get hurt,” Gonzalez told the Inquirer newspaper.

With this appaling development, we once again appeal to you to continue
praying for our country and to send petition letters to your Foreign
Ministers, the Philippine Government, and the Philippine Commission on
Human Rights to put an end to the killings of church people, peace
advocates and leaders of people’s organizations.

Attached are three sample
petition letters
for your reference.

CONTAK Philippines has launched SPEAK Now Campaign (Stop Persecution and
Extra-Judicial Killings Now in the Philippines) last month and we have
produced a Campaign Kit (Primer on the Killings of Church People, Stories
of the Martyrs, Prayer Guides, Petition Letters and Postcards, Posters).
If you are interested to receive a copy, please send us your address and
contact information.

We sincerely appreciate your support and solidarity to our campaign to stop
the killings and to find justice for all the victims.

Respectfully yours,

Lei Garcia
Executive Director
CONTAK Philippines

17 Church People Killed

1. Isaias Manano (UCCP) 28 April 2004
2. Joel Baclao (UCCP) 10 November 2004
3. Juancho Sanchez (UCCP) 16 November 2004
4. Vicente Olea (UCCP) 23 November 2004
5. Abe Sungit (UCCP) 5 February 2005
6. Fr. William Tadena (IFI) 13 March 2005
7. Alfredo Davis (UCCP) 15 April 2005
8. Rev. Edison Lapus (UCCP) 12 May 2005
9. Rev. Raul Domingo (UCCP) 20 August 2005
10. Jose ‘Pepe’ Manegdeg III (RC) 29 November 2005
11. Junico Halem (UCCP) 6 December 2005
12. Mateo Morales (RC) 24 January 2006
13. Nestor Arinque (UCCP) 7 March 2006
14. Rev. Jemias Tinambacan (UCCP) May 9, 2006
15. Pastor Andy Pawikan (UCCP) May 21, 2006
16. Noel Noli Capulong (UCCP) May 27, 2006
17. Tito Marata (RC) June 17, 2006

CONTAK Philippines —
(Church Office for International Network in the Philippines)
2/F UCCP National Offices
877 EDSA, West Triangle

As a member of a delegation to the Philippines that spoke with government and military leaders January 3-6, 2006, we sought to press the point that church missionaries working with the poor are not communists or terrorists. This rationale has been used to justify extra-judicial killing in the Philippines. Many of these killings have gone un-investigated. Others have been justified under the murky reasoning stated by Justice Secretary Gonzalez above.

I have posted sample letters in the file Philippines Sample Letters which concerned persons can use as models to write to officals.

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