“On behalf of the World Council of Churches and Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, acting general secretary of the WCC, I bring greetings of justice and peace to this timely gathering organised by Peace for Life addressing peace and human rights globally and locally in the Philippines,” she said. “In 2013, as a key outcome of the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, the WCC initiated the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.”
Phiri described the context of the pilgrimage as follows: “In the midst of geopolitical shifts, widespread violence and war in and among nations and peoples disrupt the livelihoods of families in the Middle East…Africa and Asia, setting millions of people fleeing for refuge or migrating to more promising locales…And, over all this, the lethal potential of nuclear weapons seems to risk the world itself in a game of chance.”
She then offered a summary of WCC statements at Human Rights Councils and other meetings. “As part of and even before the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, the WCC has advocated with and for its partners in the Philippines to keep the awareness of human rights abuses and militarisation in the Philippines in the minds of the international community,” she said.
“At the 45th session of the Human Rights Council, the WCC delivered a statement grieving and condemning the killing of Zara Alvarez – an ardent human rights defender, church worker, and mother – in 2020,” Phiri said. “The year before (in 2019) Zara Alvarez had hosted a WCC Pilgrim Team Visit to Negros Island in the Philippines with the aim of listening to and standing in solidarity with persecuted farmers and struggling rural communities adversely impacted by neoliberal globalisation.”
Phiri assured the consultation the WCC would continue to call on the Philippine government to "stop red-tagging churches and civil society organisations, to end the war on drugs, to take measures to hold human rights violators accountable, and to respect and uphold the human rights of the Filipino people.”