Press Statement: March 29, 2021

Reference: Aya Santos, Public Information Desk

Church’s IP advocates stifled by NTF-ELCAC: AMLC freezes bank accounts of Lumad sanctuary

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has yet again proved itself as a true apparatus of repression. Through its efforts, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) issued a freeze order on the three bank accounts of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)–Haran Center in Davao City. The main reasons? Child abuse, trafficking, and “harboring communist terrorist groups.”

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For decades now, UCCP-Haran Center has been a known sanctuary for Lumad people in Southern Mindanao, whose communities have repeatedly been terrorized by the Philippine Army and paramilitary groups. The UCCP Haran is simply performing their calling to “participate in the establishment of a just and compassionate social order.” In the case of the Lumad people, they opened their premises to provide shelter for the displaced indigenous peoples. That is not a crime. It is an act of faith and kindness.

The NTF-ELCAC wants the UCCP Haran to eject the beleaguered Lumad from their premises because the said sanctuary has exposed the military’s atrocities versus Manobo communities in Mindanao. By exposing their real situation, the struggling Lumad have earned the solidarity, not only of the religious, but of other institutions, organizations and individuals that advocate for peace here and abroad. It has also spurred support for the protection of the imperiled Pantaron Mountain Range, one of the few remaining virgin rainforests in the country currently threatened by destructive projects such as corporate mining and logging.

The NTF-ELCAC aims to cut all support for the Lumad in order to open the floodgates for these money-making projects. With the Anti-Terror Law, the NTF-ELCAC can simply tag the New People Army (NPA) as a terrorist organization, easily link the Lumad to the NPAs and justify all kinds of repression versus Lumad civilians and their supporters. In this way, the NTF-ELCAC shows that it is protecting corporate interests, and not the people’s welfare.

Amid widespread corruption and impunity among our government officials—and a President who would not even declare his SALN—it is the height of irony that human rights advocates are the ones whose accounts are being investigated. It can be remembered that this February, the NTF-ELCAC also violated the peace of the Societas Verbi Divini’s Retreat House at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City when they raided the Lumad Bakwit School seeking sanctuary there. In 2018, Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox was deported by President Duterte because of her commitment to the welfare of Filipino farmers and national minorities. This regime is waging a war on the faithful.

Sandugo Alliance calls on the public to expose and condemn these dirty tactics of the NTF-ELCAC and the Duterte regime against national minorities and the various religious groups that stand in solidarity with them. Moreover, it is everyone’s duty to oppose the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as it is being used, not just to violate human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights, but to wipe out our precious environment in the name of profit. ###

Read more:

UCCP Bishop’s statement: http://davaotoday.com/main/human-rights/uccp-bishop-to-ntf-elcac-no-abuse-and-child-trafficking-at-haran-shelter/

About UCCP: https://www.oikoumene.org/member-churches/united-church-of-christ-in-the-philippines

PNA press release: https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1135146

Sister Pat’s story: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/03/australian-nun-patricia-fox-to-return-from-philippines-after-losing-deportation-fight


Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination is an alliance of Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples’ organizations. We aim to protect ancestral territories and advance the right to determine our own lifeways.

Sandugo office is located at Room 304 National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)
879 EDSA, West Triangle, Quezon City 1104, Philippines.
You may e-mail us at sandugo.kmkmsp@gmail.com or contact us via www.sandugo.org.