NCCP Press Statement

12 May 2009

Peace and justice being the enduring concern of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), we are dismayed by the government’s reaction to the follow-up report of Prof. Philip Alston UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

To “ignore” Alston, to call the report one-sided and to deny government’s failure to institute reforms is to continue with its prevailing militarist approach to curb insurgency rather than addressing issues that breed unrest. To “end the communist insurgency by 2010” is a pronouncement that fails to take into consideration genuine agrarian reform, having the political will to curb corruption and widespread poverty and in restoring the public’s trust in governance.

Alston was steadfast in his conlusion that the counter-insurgency program of the government is one, if not the primary reason for the extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. It is the reason for the enforced disappearances as in the cases of Jonas Burgos and James Balao. It is the cause of torture of many among them Pastor Berlin Guerrero and Mr. Raymond Manalo. These notwithstanding the recent government report to the UN Committee Against Torture that it neither engages in nor encourages torture.

The Alston report gives us a general framework of what we need to know about the human rights situation in the Philippines. On one hand, the NCCP is concerned that killings and persecution go on. There can be no moral justification for the deliberate killing of people. One killing is one too many. On the other hand, we are equally concerned that many of the victims of these persecutions represent the best minds of this country, seeing as Philippine democracy is defined by those in power. We grieve over these and the failure of the victims and their relatives to achieve justice.

Recently, President Arroyo anounced a P25 million fund for the prevention of human rights violations and as reward for those who can identify perpetrators. The editorial of a major newspaper pointed it out right: “erasing the legacy of political violence does not require a participatory special fund for information – not when the information is there for the administration to read”.

We add, why not adopt, not ignore the Alston recommendations? Military solution to our deeply rooted turmoil in this country has not worked. The Alston recommendations may just be a way out.

REV. FR. REX. RB. REYES, JR.

General Secretary – NCCP