The Council for People’s Development and Governance condemns the accusations made against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) that it is channeling funds for so-called terrorist activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), and the charges made against 16 individuals. Among these are four catholic nuns; Sr. Emma Cupin, Sr. Susan Djolde, Sr. Ma. Fatima Somogod, and Sr. Mary Jane Caspillo.
This is not the first time that RMP has been red-tagged. Last 2020, the Philippine government froze their bank accounts for alleged terrorist financing. The government’s Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) ordered a 20-day freeze on three RMP accounts with the Bank of the Philippine Islands.
In 2019, the government filed charges against three RMP leaders; perjury against 80-year-old Good Shepherd nun Elena Belardo; arson, kidnapping, and robbery against 63-year-old Sister Emma Teresita Cupin of the Missionary Sisters of Mary congregation; and “frustrated murder” against 74-year-old lay worker Angie Ipong.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte, in 2018, personally ordered the deportation of Australian nun Patricia Fox who had served farmers and farm workers in the Philippines for 27 years.
RMP has an established track record of genuine service to peasants, farm workers, fisherfolk, and indigenous peoples, specifically, education (i.e., in Lumad Schools), health programs, including agrarian services and development. These services were made available to augment the lack of government services for rural people.
These attacks occur even after the strong call to the new government to be independent in taking stock of the previous administration’s poor compliance with its human rights commitments. Civil society is among many that have appealed to the current government to rejoin the International Criminal Court, and scrap the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and Executive Order 70 which created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Since its creation, the NTF-ELCAC has actively been targeting development, human rights, and humanitarian NGOs.
The continuing attacks on civil liberties, especially those critical of the government’s policies, inhibits people’s rights to democratic participation in governance, their right to development, and the exercise of their constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms, including their right to association, right to assemble and freely express their opinions and grievances.
CPDG stands with RMP to condemn these malicious attacks. Rural missionaries have faithfully witnessed God’s love for the poor in under-served communities throughout the Philippines for more than 53 years. It has long upheld people’s rights and welfare and delivered development and humanitarian assistance to disadvantaged communities and marginalized sectors.
CPDG likewise strongly condemns the attacks on other CSOs like Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, the Leyte Center for Development, Citizens Disaster Response Center, Panay Fair Trade Center, and Center for Environmental Concerns, among many other CSOs. These CSOs have long been serving grassroots communities.
We call on the government to honor its commitments to the OECD-Development Assistance Cooperation (OECD-DAC) principles, enabling civil society to contribute and realize further their full potential in helping realize the 2030 Agenda for eradicating poverty and inequality towards genuine and ecologically sustainable development of the country and its people.###
#StandWithRMP #NoToRedTagging #YesToLovingOurNeighbors