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Expression of concern on unrest in the province of Tarlac

31 March 2005

Letter to H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines,
31 March, 2005

Your Excellency,

I am writing this to bring to your kind attention a matter of deep concern to
the World Council of Churches.

We have received with dismay reports of abductions, detentions without warrants
and extra-judicial killings that have taken place in the province of Tarlac
where workers and peasants in Hacienda Luisita have been on strike. The unrest
in the province began November last, as a result of the killing of seven striking
workers by the security forces. The members of clergy and human right defenders
who have accompanied and supported the striking workers and their families
have been consistently harassed and intimidated by the security forces.
We are deeply shocked by the recent killing of Fr William Tadena on 13th
March. Fr Tadena, the chairperson of the diocesan Committee for Social Action
and Human Rights, was an outspoken critic of militarization in the province of
Tarlac and a strong supporter of the striking workers in Hacienda Luisita. He was
brutally gunned down in front of Guevara Elementary School, Brgy Guevara La
Paz, Tarlac, by two men riding a motorcycle. In the attack, three of his colleagues
were seriously injured and had to be hospitalized. To date the local police has
failed to make any arrests. The killing of Father Tadena is one in a series of such
incidents that have taken place in recent months where the law enforcement agencies
have failed to apprehend the culprits and bring them before the court of law
for justice.

In the circumstances we call on your Excellency to direct the Philippines
National Police and the local government of the province of Tarlac to conduct an
independent and speedy investigation into this tragic incident. Immediate steps
should be taken by the authorities to arrest those responsible for this brutal assassination
and to ensure that the culprits are brought before a court of law to stand
trial for the crime committed.

Yours sincerely,

Dr William Temu
Acting General Secretary