Reposting UCCP SEMJA STATEMENT: “RESPECT THE CHURCH AS SANCTUARY OF PEACE, STOP HARASSMENTS ON UCCP CHURCH WORKERS”

We are reposting the official statement of the UCCP SEMJA regarding the violent police assault by elements of the PNP 11 under the San Pedro Police Station, commanded by Col. Marvin Pepino and Supt. Lao.

Despite the pleas of UCCP pastors for the police to leave, they destroyed the gate of the UCCP compound, and beat up the lumad leaders and members of support groups who stood their ground. Over 700 lumad evacuees had to evacuate from their evacuation zone.

UCCP Press Statement-page-001 UCCP Press Statement-page-002

“We believe that God is at work, to make each person a new being in Christ and the whole world, God’s kingdom – in which love, justice and peace prevail. The Kingdom of God is present where faith in Jesus Christ is shared, where healing is given to the sick, where food is given to the hungry, where light is given to the blind, and where liberty is given to the captive and the oppressed. – UCCP Statement of Faith

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines strongly condemn the illegal and violent conduct of the Police forces along with ALAMARA, a paramilitary group, by using excessive force to break through the premises of HARAN Mission House yesterday morning July 23. This incident not only shows the brutal behaviour of the PNP but the disrespectful they have shown in treating our UCCP Pastors by beating them with truncheons, pushing them with steel shields. The PNP personnel also destroyed the Church’s gate.

We are outraged at this show of excessive force more so because the PNP did not have any warrant to enter and search the Church facility, which is a private property.

What transpired was a failure and insensitivity, not only by the PNP but also on the part of government officials headed by Rep. Nancy Catamco, Congresswoman of 2nd District North Cotabato, who is supposed to be in the first place in charge of House of Representatives committee on Indigenous People. They failed in heeding to the demands of our Ata-Manobo brothers and sisters that military forces must be pulled out from their villages in order for them to go home and live their lives peacefully.

Just a few hours prior to the violent incident, the Church facilitated a dialogue with DSWD and NCIP, and came up with resolutions that they would just attend to the needs of the women and children. But even while the resolution was being firmed out, the PNP terrorized the evacuees with their presence in full riot gear, the presence of paramilitary group ALAMARA, demolition team, fire trucks and military trucks, and then proceeded to destroy the gate and forcibly entered the church premises.

HARAN Mission House owned by UCCP has long been a Peace Sanctuary for the lost, the last and the least of our people. It is a place purposely created to accommodate individuals or communities that were deprived, neglected, exploited, and suppressed with their civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights.

Our fellow Ata-Manobos sought help and refuge in our Church since 1995, the first of a series of internal displacement due to militarization that happened. Providing them sanctuary in our peace haven is a duty we embrace arising from our own Declaration of Principles.

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines demands accountability from Rep. Nancy Catamco, the ALAMARA and the PNP Region 11 for their unlawful conduct through harassment, intimidation, forcible entry and destruction of our Church property. We cry for justice for our fellow Church workers who have been harassed, and terrorized. We decry the trumped up charges filed on our Pastors.

And we call on all sectors to denounce the ongoing militarization and human rights violations in Indigenous Peoples community and to strengthen inter-faith and tri-people efforts to build unity, justice and peace, in response to the plight of our Ata Manobo brothers and sisters.

 

 

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