HomeNewsCaritas PH new executive director vows to strengthen human rights, ecumenical relations 

Caritas PH new executive director vows to strengthen human rights, ecumenical relations 

The new executive director of Caritas Philippines expressed optimism on Sunday that the Church’s intensified efforts for human rights and expanded ecumenical relations will soon be realized.

“We hope to see a greater movement towards strengthening [human rights]. Because let’s face it, that has been very, very damaged in the past administration,” said Fr. Carmelo “Tito” Calaug. 

On June 2, Caritas Philippines announced the appointment of Caluag as its new executive director, succeeding Fr. Antonio Labiao Jr., who served in the post from July 2020 until his resignation in March 2024 due to health reasons.

In a press briefing, the priest reminded the faithful that advancing human rights is “part of the mandate” of the Catholic Church, adding that faith institutions must initiate programs that will promote human rights and protect rights defenders.

“In case, God forbid, another situation calls for a stronger stand against human rights violations. We’ll be ready… I think we should go beyond just providing legal assistance [to rights violations victims],” he said. 

Calaug denounced the practice of ‘red-tagging’ and all forms of attacks against human rights defenders, environmental activists, and social action workers.

“We need to create protocols that will provide greater security for our advocates, and perhaps, also from time to time, bring together the advocates and to listen to them and to create programs for them to exchange ideas, And also create greater synergy and synchronization of efforts,” he added.

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Since 2020, Caluag has worked as a consultant for Caritas Philippines. He currently leads the Alay Kapwa (AK) Expanded Fund Campaign and involved in the AK Community Schooling, as well as the Caritas Philippines Academy.

An educator at heart, he is expected to contribute his considerable experience in education, leadership, and social development to the organization.

During the press conference, Caluag also emphasized the need to collaborate with other faiths and Christian denominations, not only in the realm of human rights but also in efforts to serve the poor.

“I guess the collaboration with other Christian churches, and all other churches for that matter, involving all faiths, is not just limited to human rights, but also about becoming an institution for the poor,” he said. 

The priest added that he considers “becoming the church of the poor is something very crucial” and “bigger than human rights because it encompasses human rights”.

“Because the most violated rights are those of the poor,” he said. 

Caluag’s ministry reflects a lifelong dedication to service. He began teaching at Ateneo de Manila High School in 1980 and later held various leadership positions at Ateneo de Manila University.

He joined the Society of Jesus in 1983 and was ordained a priest 10 years later.

In 2005, he founded the Alay sa Bansa Center for Education Research and Development, which later evolved into the Magna Anima Education System, Inc. Caluag will assume its presidency on July 1, 2024.

Caluag resigned from ADMU in 2005 and requested to be dismissed from the Society of Jesus in 2006 to focus on public school work and other advocacies.

He is now incardinated in the Novaliches diocese and serves as Parochial Vicar of the Good Shepherd Cathedral. He is also the priest director of the diocese’s Special Commission on Research and Advocacy and Head of the Resource Mobilization Office.

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