HomeDiocesan ReportsMindanao religious leaders call for end to red-tagging of Church workers

Mindanao religious leaders call for end to red-tagging of Church workers

The Church leaders ask authorities to allow peace activists 'to continue their work without fear of retaliation'

Religious leaders in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao called on the government to end the red-tagging of Church workers.

“We request that the [President Rodrigo] Duterte administration fully respect the Churches’ efforts to serve the [poor] including its partner organizations, in both paper and practice,” read the statement from the Ecumenical Forum for Peace and Human Rights.

The forum is headed by Archbishops Antonio Ledesma and Jose Cabantan of the Catholic archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro; Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente; and Bishop Ligaya San Francisco of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

“Stop the administration’s harmful red-tagging, fear tactics, and ministry-derailment techniques,” said the Church leaders in their statement.

They said the country has seen its fair share of martyrs, and that the state must “allow the Church to fully pursue Jesus Christ’s life-abundant giving purpose.”

“Allow peace activists to continue their work without fear of retaliation,” read the statement.

“Allow indigenous peoples and the urban poor to take advantage of the benefits that this society has to offer. Let human rights and peace be the foundation and standard of existence in our beautiful country,” it added.

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The bishops noted that the as Churches carry out their Gospel duty, the Filipino people continue to be engulfed in “a web of structural violence that is woven into the socio-political fabric.”

“The agenda for a meaningful and lasting peace at the negotiating table faltered, and discussions devolved into firearms and violence,” they said.

“Negotiators for peace were persecuted, silenced, and even killed. In our country, there is no peace, and impunity reigns supreme,” said the Church leaders.

They said that the land disposition of indigenous peoples and urban poor sectors “occurs frequently as large corporations expand their operations in other places, displacing the poor and isolating them from their source of income.”

“False allegations are leveled against human rights workers, activists, civil liberties groups, and even religious workers who defend human dignity, land rights, and peace advocates in order to muzzle dissent,” they said.

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