World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

You are here: Home / Press centre / News / WCC seeks end to extrajudicial killings in the Philippines

WCC seeks end to extrajudicial killings in the Philippines

05 September 2006

The World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee today condemnedextrajudicial killings in the Philippinesand called onthe government of the Philippines to disband "death squads", private militias and paramilitary forces operating with impunity in the country.

Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, 30 August to 6 September 2006, the central committee also challenged the concept of a global war on terror as pretext for the violation of human rights in the Philippines.

Central committee heard how the legitimacy of the 2001 election of the Philippines government headed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo continues to be challenged. Under the pretexts of the "war on terror" and a new emphasis on internal national security, the Philippines has become "militarized to an alarming degree".

There are now many calls, including from the churches, for the President to relinquish office.

Central committee heard that promises of reform have not been addressed and political power is still exercised by a ruling elite supported by the military.

Since 2001 more than 740 people who have worked with and for the poor in the Philippines have been assassinated in extrajudicial killings. They include journalists, lawyers, leaders of people's organizations, human rights activists and 21 church workers, nine of whom were pastors and priests.

Paramilitary groups armed by the military, and even members of the military and police, have been implicated in these killings.

Over the past 12 months the situation has worsened considerably, the central committee statement emphasized. Extrajudicial killings have been happening at the rate of one every two days. The government has increased its military action against insurgents, resulting in an increase in the number of "civilian" deaths.

Central committee called on the Philippines Government to hold accountable any members of the military found to be involved in extrajudicial killings, instruct the military to cease listing churches and church workers as "enemies of the state", and reverse the national security policy of making no distinction between combatants and non-combatants within the current counter-insurgency campaign.

It expressed its condolences to the families of the victims of the killings, affirmed the Filipino churches and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines "for their courageous work with and for the poor, in the face of violent opposition," and assured the Filipino churches of ongoing support.

Central committee also asked the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to take up the matter of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

Related Links:

Full text of the "Statement on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines" will be available later on Tuesday, 5 September, on the WCC website:

www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/central-committee/geneva-2006/reports-and-documents.html

More information on the WCC Central Committee meeting is available on the WCC website:

www.oikoumene.org/en/events-sections/cc2006.html