The World Council of Churches (WCC) decried the “red tagging” of its affiliate in the Philippines, saying it “gives a green light to harassment and deadly attacks by security forces.”
A list presented before a congressional briefing in Manila last week tagged the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) among alleged communist “front organizations.”
Rev. Olav Fyse Tveit, WCC general secretary, said “red tagging in effect gives a green light to harassment and deadly attacks by security forces and militias against those listed.”
The NCCP has consistently spoken out against the government’s anti-narcotics “war” that has reportedly killed about 30,000 people in the past three years.
Tveit joined other church leaders in calling on the Philippine government “to protect the human rights and equal God-given dignity of all people” in the country.
The National Council of Churches in the United States of America said the “outrageous and unacceptable targeting of the NCCP is reminiscent of the oppression during the darkest years of the [President Ferdinand] Marcos dictatorship.”
Christian Aid, which is a long-time partner of NCCP in extending humanitarian aid to victims of calamities, appealed to the government “to revoke the accusations.”
“[NCCP] has done nothing but to uphold the dignity and respect that poor and vulnerable groups of Filipinos deserve, especially in times of life-threatening emergencies,” said Christian Aid in a statement.
The government’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict admitted that the NCCP is on its list of “communist front groups.”
“Not all members of the NCCP are cadres,” said Major General Antonio Parlade Jr., the military’s deputy chief of staff for civil military operations.
“But because of the infiltration, many of them, like their bishops, are die-hard supporters of the underground revolution,” said the military official.
In a media briefing last week, former justice Raoul Victorino, NCCP chairman, claimed that the military has denied linking the whole organization to the clandestine rebel group.
He said he met with the military official who presented the list before Congress who said the Protestant group “wittingly or unwittingly … channeled some of the funds to organizations that are considered communists or with communist leanings.”
Members and supporters of the Protestant council believed that the general lied to Victorino.
Minnie Ann Mata-Calub, secretary general of NCCP, revealed that on Nov. 7, four armed men in civilian clothes conducted surveillance on the premises of the church organization.
“They were asking for a certain priest. It was not the first time they conducted surveillance. They have been doing that for the past months,” she said.