HomeNewsProtestant council condemns freeze of Church’s assets in southern Philippines

Protestant council condemns freeze of Church’s assets in southern Philippines

The Protestant Church council called on the government to stop the 'harassment' against the United Church of Christ in the Philippines

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), “strongly condemn[ed]” the freezing of the accounts and properties of the HARAN Center of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao City.

In a statement released on April 2, the NCCP said the center has always been a safe haven for indigenous peoples “fleeing from rampant militarization in their communities.”

“This is a direct assault on the ministry of UCCP and would further put in danger the lives of the internally displaced lumads who sought refuge in HARAN,” read the statement signed by NCCP leaders.

A resolution dated March 12, 2021, the government’s Anti-Money Laundering Council issued a freeze order covering three bank accounts of UCCP HARAN with the Philippine National Bank amounting to about 600,000 pesos.

The freeze order also covers a real property under the name of Brokenshire Integrated Health Ministries, Inc. and stems from an allegation that the assets have been “used to finance terrorism.”

“We have seen this before with the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines whose assets were also frozen because of the preposterous reason that they ‘channel funds to terrorists,’” read the NCCP statement.

Several UCCP bishops, including the NCCP’s general secretary, Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, have earlier been charged of “trafficking in persons” and “child abuse.” The complaints have since been dismissed by the courts.

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“It is very disturbing that the right to the exercise of the freedom of religion and the ministries in furtherance of our religious beliefs, to love God by loving our neighbor is being violated by the government,” said the Protestant leaders.

“The Christian faith compels us to provide care for the least of our sisters and brothers, like the lumad communities in Mindanao who have endured decades-old neglect and abuse,” they added.

They said that it is “ironic” that the freeze order came “when a significant portion of our country is remembering the betrayal, passion and resurrection of Jesus.”

“This only serves to underscore the overbearing use of power by those who rule,” added the council’s statement.

“In these trying times, we firmly affirm our support to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and its ministry to the poor and marginalized,” it added.

The Protestant Church group called on the government “to stop this harassment against UCCP and other rights defenders.”

It also called for the lifting of the freeze order on all UCCP Haran accounts, assets and real properties.

“We also call on our member churches and our national and international partners to remain vigilant and join in this critical juncture with continued prayer and action,” said the Church leaders.

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