Written by Gregg Brekke
Religious and labor rights organizations have joined in an appeal to the U.S. Congress, asking for swift action to deter further violence and civil rights violations in the Philippines.
Expressing outrage at "killings and abductions of church leaders, members of trade unions, and other political and social activists" in the Philippines, representatives from the UCC and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Global Ministries have joined with 236 leaders from interfaith, academic, citizen and non-governmental organizations urging the Obama administration and Congress to implement policies that will ensure human rights are maintained in the region.
The Feb. 9, 2009, letter, expresses solidarity with religious, labor and political leaders in the Philippines who have been subject to extrajudicial arrests, detention and killing by government agents.
Having met with an assassinated minister's wife in the Philippines, the Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte, executive minister for UCC Wider Church Ministries and Global Ministries, said, "I wish I could speak face-to-face personally with every member of Congress to help them understand how important this effort is. Our government can play a key role in encouraging the government of the Philippines to bring to justice the people involved in these assassinations and disappearances."
The Rev. Rex Reyes, Jr., General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines sent a letter of request to partner organizations in the United States on Jan. 28, 2009, asking for assistance in addressing Congress to ensure pressure is applied to Philippine officials in charge of investigating human rights violations.
Fr. Reyes cited a recent example where 72 activists were denied due process, including two affiliated pastors, the Rev. Edwin Egar of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and the Rev. Mel Abesamis of the United Methodist Church (UMC.)
The full text of the coalition letter to U.S. leaders can be found at <http://www.laborrights.org>. Partner organization, the International Labor Rights Forum, issued its own letter to accompany this appeal to Congress.
Continuing updates on partner churches in the Philippines can be found at Global Ministries' East Asia and the Pacific website.