A Statement on the Freeze Order of UCCP Haran’s Assets and Properties
The National Council of Church in the Philippines (NCCP) strongly condemns the freezing of accounts and properties of the Haran Center of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao City. For many years, the UCCP Haran (Home and Altar for Renewal, Action, and Nurture) has been a safe haven for Lumads fleeing from rampant militarization in their communities. This is a direct assault on the ministry of UCCP and would further put in danger the lives of the internally displaced Lumads who sought refuge in Haran.
On a resolution dated March 12, 2021, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) issued a freeze order covering three bank accounts of UCCP Haran with the Philippine National Bank amounting to more or less PHP600,000.00. The freeze order also covers a real property under the name of Brokenshire Integrated Health Ministries, Inc. and stems from the malicious and unfounded allegation that UCCP Haran’s assets have been “used to finance terrorism,” harboring the Lumads in the compound and indoctrinating them with “communist ideals”. We have seen this before with the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) whose assets were also frozen because of the preposterous reason that they “channel funds to terrorists”. Furthermore, UCCP Bishops, including our General Secretary, Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, and the Haran management faced trumped-up complaint on trafficking in persons and child abuse filed by four IP complainants led by the Regional Director for Legal Affairs of NCIP-Caraga in September 2020. This harassment complaint has since been dismissed.
It is very disturbing that the right to the exercise of the freedom of religion and the ministries in furtherance of our religious beliefs, to love God by loving our neighbor (cf. Mark 12:27-29), is being violated by the government. The Christian faith compels us to provide care for the least of our sisters and brothers, like the Lumad communities in Mindanao who have endured decades-old neglect and abuse. It is ironic that this happened when a significant portion of our country is remembering the betrayal, passion and resurrection of Jesus. This only serves to underscore the overbearing use of power by those who rule.
This also comes at a time when there seems to be a renewed offensive against human rights defenders and activists this holiest of weeks: attempted murder charges were filed against Karapatan chairperson Elisa Tita Lubi andKarapatan – Southern Mindanao Region Secretary-General Jayvee “Jay” Apiag; Dandy Miguel Vice-chair of PAMANTIK was killed; Joseph Canlas, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) vice-chairperson and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), May Arcilla of Karapatan Central Luzon and Pol Viuya, chairperson of Bayan Central Luzon were all arrested based on trumped-up charges and planted evidence. All of these while Metro Manila and nearby provinces are in lockdown.
In these trying times, we firmly affirm our support to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and its ministry to the poor and marginalized. We call on the government: to stop this harassment against UCCP and other rights defenders; lift the freeze order on all UCCP Haran accounts, assets and real properties; fully uphold human rights and the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights in our Constitution including freedom of religion and the exercise thereof; focus resources on controlling the COVID-19 pandemic instead of committing rights violations against the people.
We also call on our member churches and our national and international partners to remain vigilant and join in this critical juncture with continued prayer and action. Let us be inspired by this declaration of Jesus Christ, “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33).
02 April 2021
REV. FELIPE B. EHICAN, JR.
RT. REV. JOEL O. PORLARES
DRA. GAY B. MANODON
MS. CATHERINE KAY F. ALMARIO
BISHOP REUEL NORMAN O. MARIGZA