DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Amid the recent series of questionable arrests of several members of progressive groups, religious and humanitarian organizations slammed the military for accusing them of being alleged “communist fronts”.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Oxfam Philippines, Citizens’ Disaster Response Center Foundation, Inc. (CDRC), were among the 18 organizations branded by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, during a congressional briefing on Tuesday, Nov 5, as “fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).”
NCCP condemned the AFP’s move, and considered it as “an attack to our Christian faith and tradition”.
“The NCCP is the largest aggrupation of mainline Protestant and non-Roman Catholic denominations in the Philippines and we are one in preaching the Gospel of loyalty to Jesus Christ. We work for unity and reconciliation, justice and peace, human rights and the integrity of God’s creation,” NCCP said.
“We will remain resolute in our prophetic witness and service to the people even in the midst of shrinking democratic space and the rising impunity,” it added.
CDRC denounced the inclusion of their group and its network of non-government organizations in the military list despite the absence of legal evidence and due process. The organization is currently on its 35th year of humanitarian and development work in the Philippines.
CRDC said that the military’s move has put humanitarian and development workers in grave danger of being harassed by state forces while delivering aid to disaster-stricken communities.
Oxfam also denied being a front of “communist terror groups”, stressing they have been working to reduce poverty and to provide life-saving assistance to communities in the Philippines affected by disasters for three decades.
“As an organization committed to the humanitarian imperative, we ensure that our assistance is extended to the most vulnerable in an impartial and non-partisan manner. Oxfam is determined that all its funds and resources should only be used to further its mission and shall not be subject to diversion by any third party nor used or abused for any illegal purpose,” Oxfam said.
“We work in full accordance with humanitarian principles, international law and the laws of donor governments and have stringent systems in place to ensure our aid gets to the people who need it most,” it added.
The military revealed the said list following the arrest of several leaders and organizers of legal progressive groups in the past few days.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) office in Manila was raided by the police past midnight on Tuesday (Nov 5), and arrested three members of progressive groups. In Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, 57 individuals were also arrested by the police in a series of raid in the offices of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, and National Federation of Sugar Workers (NSFW) on Oct. 31. (davaotoday.com)