The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) condemned the police intrusion into a Catholic school in Cebu City in what authorities described as a “rescue” operation of indigenous children reportedly taken by groups with links to the underground communist movement.
Bishop Reuel Marigza, general secretary of NCCP, said the incident was “a clear manifestation of the government’s disregard to the rights and lives of indigenous peoples, especially the Lumad children (who) … have been uprooted from their ancestral lands.”
“This is not the first. They did the same to the Lumads who have sought a safe place in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran Center in Davao,” read a statement from the Protestant council.
“In their quest for a more peaceful place, away from their military-occupied ancestral lands, the Lumads have no choice but to flee and go to places where they feel that they are safe,” it added.
“It is just abhorrent and unacceptable for us to see the government’s relentless attacks to their lives and communities,” said Marigza in the statement.
“We join the call to end militarization in Mindanao and to save Lumad schools,” he added.
“We likewise call for the safe and immediate release of the 25 students including their elders and their teachers who were illegally detained from this violent police raid,” said the Protestant bishop.
The NCCP is the largest aggrupation of mainline Protestant and non-Roman Catholic churches in the Philippines.