|(SVM News) – Pastor of Jesus Is Lord Ministries was stabbed to death on October 26 in Barangay Perez of Kidapawan City in North Cotabato province in southern Philippines.
Pastor Martin Ambong (48) was brutally murdered on Friday early morning near his church with16 stab wounds on his body. His face was also flogged by a hard object.
|Philippines Government “Killing” Christians, World Council of Churches Says
Philippines Government “Killing” Christians, World Council of Churches Says
“We condemn the ongoing practice of the Philippine government and the military of labeling and persecuting the churches, pastors and church workers who work for justice, peace and protection of human rights as subversives or communists,”
November 24, 2007 Philippines (BosNewsLife)– The World Council of Churches (WCC) has accused the Philippine government of involvement in “extra-judicial killings,” and other forms of mistreatment of Christian workers, BosNewsLife established Saturday, November 24.
The Swiss-based WCC, which claims to represent 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, said among believers murdered by government backed forces were several church activists and pastors who allegedly supported opponents of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s administration.
In a statement obtained by BosNewsLife, WCC General Secretary Samuel Kobia cited the “brutal stabbing” of Philippines Independent Church Bishop Alberto Ramento in October last year.
He was accused of “supporting a rebellion”, but fellow church members said the real reason for the killing was his involvement in human rights advocacy. “It seems that the Philippine government is resorting to terrorist means in conducting its ‘war on terror’,” Kobia said.
Kobia, who was part of en ecumenical delegation visiting the Philippines this week, also heard the testimony of Jonathan Sta. Rosa, whose brother Isaias, a pastor of the United Methodist Church, was forcibly taken from their house on 3 August 2006 and later summarily executed. Jonathan himself was allegedly tortured.
Both brothers were suspected of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the clandestine Communist Party of the Philippines (Maoist), which has been waging a guerrilla warfare for over 38 years, a statement released by the WCC said.
Other victims of alleged human rights violations also told their stories during the encounter with Kobia�s group, organized by the National Council of Churches of the Philippines. Among them was the wife of Berlin Guerrero, a detained pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
She recalled how her husband was driving his family back home after an evening worship service when the car was stopped by gunmen. The pastor was taken at gunpoint and dragged into a van. His hands were apparently hogtied. A plastic bag pulled over his head nearly suffocated Guerrero and made him pass out twice, so the abductors beat him to wake him up, his wife said.
Guerrero was allegedly abducted and tortured to force him to admit membership in the clandestine Communist Party of the Philippines. “They [the abductors] even told my husband that they would rape me and my daughter in front of him if he would not name leaders of supposedly underground organizations,” said Guerrero’s wife Mylene in comments released by the WCC.
He survived last year’s abduction, unlike over 800 activists, including church workers and journalists, who died in “extrajudicial killings” since 2001, according to the WCC and other sources.
However Guerrero has since been jailed over what his wife says are ‘trumped up charges’ of murder, which he supposedly committed 17 years ago. With the support of church and human rights groups, the family is still fighting for the resolution of the case.
Kobia said the WCC will bring “victims of human rights abuses” in the Philippines to the upcoming session of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, of which the country is a member.
He stressed the situation in the Philippines could mean it would lose its seat in the UN body, adding that the government should “take necessary action to stop the enforced disappearances” and “put an end to extrajudicial killings”.
He also requested “an immediate and impartial investigation of all recent extrajudicial executions”. This should be done by an “independent inquiry commission” rather than one “made up of the government appointees”.
“We condemn the ongoing practice of the Philippine government and the military of labeling and persecuting the churches, pastors and church workers who work for justice, peace and protection of human rights as subversives or communists,” said Kobia.
He was accompanied in the Philippines by Sophia Adinyira, a justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana and a member of the (Anglican) Church of the Province of West Africa, Rev. Dr Sandy Yule, the national secretary for Christian Unity of the Uniting Church in Australia; and WCC Program Executive for Asia, Mathews George Chunakara.
The pressure on church leaders and missionaries is remarkable as the Philippines is Asia’s largest Christian nation, analysts say. Close to 90 percent of the Philippines’ 91 million people are declaring themselves ‘Christian’. Most people are Catholics, Church; less than 10 percent members of Protestant churches and groups, according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).