The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA views with the greatest alarm and concern the news that the Department of National Defense (DND) of the Philippine Government has listed the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) as a “front organization of local communist terrorist groups.” This outrageous and unacceptable targeting of the NCCP is reminiscent of the repression during the darkest years of the Marcos dictatorship.
The churches and church members in the NCCP are our brothers and sisters in Christ and their ministry is to witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and assist those most in need in Philippine society. The NCCP has been involved for decades in trailblazing work on human rights, migration, women’s empowerment, HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention, and children’s ministry including the protection of children against online sexual exploitation and trafficking.
The inclusion by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte on the list of communist terrorist groups represents a clear threat posed to the NCCP member churches, associate members, ecumenical partners, and staff.
During the three and a half years of President Duterte’s lawless regime, more than 10,000 people have been murdered in this so-called ‘war on drugs.’ A culture of impunity now exists and intolerance of dissent by the government is increasing. By “red-tagging” the NCCP, the Duterte regime diminishes an already limited civil space, weakens the ability of the Council to fulfill its humanitarian mission, and puts staff and even member churches and ecumenical partners in danger.
The Duterte regime has a long record of human rights abuses, and in recent weeks has vilified civil society organizations and has targeted them with attacks and illegal arrests.
The NCCP, like ecumenical organizations around the world, carries out the work of the church by advocating for the “least of these (Matt. 25).” We stand by our NCCP sisters and brothers and pledge to remain vigilant on behalf of their safety and security and to raise our voices on their behalf with President Duterte and with the United States government.
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
–Ephesians 5:11 NRSV