Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ecumenical Welcome Reception

Participants and Guests of the Philippine International Observers Mission for the May 2010 election at a photo-op after the Ecumenical Welcome Reception held May 7, 2010 at the Shalom Center in Malate, Manila.

Vigilance, A Must In The May 2010 Elections

May 7, 2010

Vigilance, A Must In The May 2010 Elections

“righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people”
(Proverb 14:34)

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the largest aggrupation of mainline Protestant and non-Roman Catholic churches and service institutions in the country, exhorts its members and the general public to be doubly vigilant as the first automated electoral exercise is held in the country.

The Automated Election System Watch (AESWatch), which counts the NCCP among its members, had for months raised the issue of putting safeguards to the system.  AESWatch raised the concern following the so-called 30 vulnerabilities of the AES uncovered by the Center for People’s Empowerment in Governance (CENPEG).  On our own, we have produced a Primer for Voters’ education used intensively by our constituent member churches in their voters’ education seminars.  The primer underlined vigilance against any threat to the electoral process including but not limited to extensions of terms and return to military rule.  Along with equally minded organizations, we have sought the presence of our partners abroad to observe the electoral process.

In a couple of days we shall troop to the polls to choose our leaders.  Events in the last few days have proven the fears expressed by AESWatch and other groups.  The concerns, dismissed earlier by the Commission on Elections as coming from doomsayers and saboteurs, are with basis.  The recent failure of the PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) machines to properly account for the test ballots is an indication.  All the more reason for us to be alarmed.

Our call for vigilance is primarily intended to prevent wholesale electronic cheating.  We are as concerned as anybody else with a credible election consistent with the respect to the right of suffrage and for this exercise to be an instrument in improving the lives of the people.  Systematic fraud will subvert democracy as it subverts the people’s will.

Let us pray fervently and work vigorously that the result of this election will truly reflect our choice.  Where there is rampant cheating and violence let us expose it.  Where there is mockery let us denounce it.  Our people power will not be for any candidate but for the people’s interest and welfare.  These and the peaceful transition of power, are our duties as citizens and Christians.  All in all, they are our best option.

Go and vote and guard your vote!  Vote for political parties, party list groups and candidates who have proven themselves as championing the cause of poor farmers, workers, urban poor, indigenous people, youth, women and all marginalized sectors.  Vote for them who will proudly raise our sovereign flag and pursue genuine national development and the positive transformation of our society.

Go and vote in the love, peace and service of the Lord!

Rev. Fr. Rex RB Reyes, Jr.
General Secretary

Bishop Nathanael P. Lazaro

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Thank You from the Cordillera Peoples Alliance

thru Padi Rex Reyes, Secretary General 


We look forward to your continuing support to the struggles of the Cordillera indigenous peoples!

Cordillera Peoples Alliance 
For the Defense of the Ancestral Domain and For Self Determination 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


A Reflection Gathering: Human Rights Under Nine Years of the Arroyo Government

We gathered at the Angelicum College in Quezon City on April 28, 2010 to reflect on the human rights situation in the country in the nine years of the Arroyo Government. Our reflection was marked by the stories of the kith and kin of victims of human rights violations and how these violations have been brought about by the government’s counter insurgency program through the Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

We shared the anguish of these relatives. We grieved over the extra-judicial killings of more than a thousand people since 2001. We were saddened by stories of torture and the enforced disappearance of more than 200 people. We lamented the forcible evacuation and displacement of thousands of people in the rural areas as a result of military operations. We expressed alarm at the continuing detention of 43 health workers who were illegally arrested in Morong, Rizal.

The statistics are no mere figures. They represent the scale and magnitude of the gruesome impact of OBL. It is a counter-insurgency program that has not made a distinction between armed combatants and civilians propelled by the burning desire to serve and promote significant changes for the better in the lives of people mired in systemic poverty and neglect. The victims are farmers, workers, community leaders, indigenous people, Muslims, activists, students, health workers, churchworkers, lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders and party-list organizers and volunteers. None in recent memory can match the viciousness of the OBL and the human toll on civilians whose only crime, if indeed it was a crime that warranted their deaths and suffering, was principled dissent against government and in favor of the welfare of the majority, the safeguarding of posterity and patrimony of this country. The OBL is very much in place. With the year 2010 as the deadline to beat. To meet the target means more bloodbath.

To this day not a single perpetrator of these killings and violence to human life has been convicted. It is a chilling indictment on a government which claims adherence to democracy. It breeds righteous indignation and fuels further discontent.

The human rights situation under the Arroyo Government is the worst since that of the Martial Law years under Marcos. None in recent years, can compare to the culture of impunity that characterized these assaults on human dignity. We recall with horror the massacre in Maguindanao characterized among others by the fact that it had the most number of journalists killed in a single incident.

Our reflection bids us to hold high the struggle for the vindication of the innocent and the punishment of those who willfully destroyed life. Our reflection bids us demand of those in power that perpetrators of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violation be brought to the bars of justice. The Arroyo Government must be held accountable for the repressive OBL and the death, disappearance and abuse of innocent civilians in the name of counter-insurgency.

We are people who believe in God’s redeeming love and call to be one people under God’s sovereignty. There can be no more compelling reason for us to bear witness and denounce this travesty, than the call to live out and bear witness to our baptism that calls us to uphold the sanctity of life. One killing is one too many. Oplan Bantay Laya is an abomination – an instrument of violence, bloodshed and defiance of the divine will of abundant life for all. It must be stopped.

Finally, we issue this challenge to those who will be victorious following the May 10 elections: fulfill your promises; give justice to the victims of human rights violations; end political repression; discontinue the OBL as a policy and never embark on any similar policy; and, address the roots of the insurgency namely, poverty and injustice.

*This Unity Statement was approved and signed by the 175 participants composed of church people and human rights advocates who attended “A Reflection Gathering: Human Rights Under Nine Years of the Arroyo Government” organized by the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights. The signatories include:

·         Rev. Fr. Rex RB. Reyes, Jr., General Secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
·         Bp. Deogracias Iniguez, Jr. co-chairperson, Ecumenical Bishops' Forum
·         Bishop Ephraim Fajutagana, General Secretary, Iglesia Filipina Independiente
·         Dr. Edith Burgos, Chairperson, Desaparecidos
·         Mr. Jigs Clamor, Deputy Secretary General, Karapatan
·         Bishop Gabriel Garol, Bishop Emeritus, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
·         Bishop Lito Cruz, Diocese of Rizal-Pampanga, Iglesia Filipina Independiente
·         Sr. Maureen Catabian, Coordinator for Women, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, Religious of the Good Shepherd
·         Fr. Joe Dizon, Promoter, Solidarity Philippines
·         Ms. Norma Dollaga, General Secretary, KASIMBAYAN
·         Rev. Mariesol Villalon , Co-chairperson, Promotion of Church People's Response
·         Mr. Nardy Sabino, Secretary General, Promotion of Church People's Response
·         Fr. Bong Sarabia, CM, Chairperson, Promotion of Church People's Response – National Capital Region
·         Rev. Aniceto Villalon, Jr., Chairperson, Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church
·         Fr. Terry Revullido, Dean, Aglipay Central Theological Seminary
·         Ms. Donna Lou Galingan, General Secretary, Kalipunan ng Kristianong Kabataan sa Pilipinas