WCRC joins call to protect human rights in the Philippines

The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) has joined Christian organizations around the world “to stand with the Filipino people in light of the deteriorating situation of civil liberties and human rights in the Philippines.”

Following a global virtual meeting convened by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and International Ecumenical Convocation for the Defense of Human Rights, the “Unity Statement for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in the Philippines” was issued.

The statement raises serious concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines, noting:

  • We are alarmed by the passage into law of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which poses serious threats on civil liberties. This law practically legitimizes unlawful arrests and detentions, thereby undermining due process of law and equal protection of the law that are guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution.
  • The proliferation of extrajudicial killings, including the killing of thousands of people under a so-called “war on drugs”, is reprehensible. We are concerned that a general climate of impunity has been synergized with the Philippine president’s unabashed incitement to violence and regular calls for state forces to punish legitimate dissent by the citizenry.

“We call for an end to these killings. We stand with the Filipino citizenry in denouncing state impunity and the wanton display of violence and brutality by state forces. We affirm that due process of law and the equal protection of the law are constitutive of a just and democratic governance and guarantees protections arising from both domestic and international laws that the Philippines have sworn to abide by,” says the statement.

“Our member church, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, is one of the churches specifically being attacked for their human rights work and social justice witness,” said Chris Ferguson, WCRC general secretary. “Church leaders have been labeled communists, which in the Filipino context can be a virtual death sentence, given the spiraling extra judicial killings.”

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has been used as an excuse to heighten violations of civil rights. “This is one of the clearest examples of COVID measures being used to impose social control and military repression,” said Ferguson.

The statement also includes ways in which the signees will support Filipinos, including advocating “for the United Nations Human Rights Council to ‘establish an on-the-ground independent, impartial investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines.’”

“We will continue to uphold God’s gift of human dignity in the Philippines and everywhere, working with human rights defenders, and maximizing all venues and platforms to put a spotlight on those who violate and undermine human rights so that they are called to face justice and account for their transgressions,” concludes the statement.

Several WCRC member churches have already signed onto the statement, and the WCRC urges its members to join in solidarity, prayer, and active support for their sisters and brothers in the Philippines.

Access the Unity Statement for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in the Philippines to read and sign.

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