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Filipino victims tell of atrocities

21 November 2007

by Vincent McKee

AGAINST a background of continuous turbulence, a delegation from the World Council of Churches visited the Philippines this week, headed by the secretary-general, the Revd Dr Samuel Kobia.

  Since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s accession to power in January 2001, an estimated 845 opponents — including opposition activists, peasant leaders, journalists, and church figures — have been murdered by pro-government hit squads (News, 2 November24 August). They include a number of RC priests, as well as clerics from Reformed Churches.

The delegation heard harrowing evidence from the wife of an imprisoned pastor, Berlin Guerrero. Her husband had been arrested, beaten, and tortured, she said, all on trumped-up charges to sustain his current detention since May 2006. Also giving testimony was the Revd Isaias Sta Rosa, a Methodist pastor, whose brother Jonathan was kidnapped and shot by a death squad in August 2006.

A memorial service was staged for Bishop Alberto Ramento, a leader of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente — a sister Church of the Anglican Communion — whose human-rights work led to his murder in October 2006 by a right-wing gang.

There was widespread recognition that the Arroyo regime had failed to acknowledge the complicity of rogue military and paramilitary gangs in the murders and kidnappings, or to bring the culprits to justice.

The delegation heard that the unwillingness of key Western allies in Washington or London to confront President Arroyo about the killings has meant that they continue unabated.

After hearing the testimonies, Dr Kobia said: “We want to reassure you about our continuing accompaniment in your journey towards peace and justice.”

Forthcoming Events

2 July 2022
Bringing Down the Mighty: Church, Theology and Structural Injustice
With Anthony Reddie, Azariah France-Williams, Mariama Ifode-Blease, Luke Larner, Will Moore, Stewart Rapley and Victoria Turner.

4-8 July 2022
HeartEdge Mission Summer School
From HeartEdge and St Augustine’s College of Theology.

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