‘Desperate move’ to vilify rural missionaries

Features Philippines Mar 8, 2019 at 4:10 pm

Sister Elenita BelardoWe, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, a national organization of women and men religious, priests and lay, condemn the tagging of our organization as a “communist front,” this time through the complaints filed by National Security Council deputy director general Vicente Agdamag to the United Nations (UN).

The report, submitted to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva on Feb. 21, alleged that we are trafficking tribal children.

This is such a desperate move to vilify us, for we have been effective in raising people’s awareness on the plight and demands of our farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples, and in exposing the grave abuses of human rights in the country. It only reflects the cowardice of those behind this move.

We condemn in the highest terms this slander of our organization. We reiterate that our commitment to serve the rural poor moves us to provide programs for them, including literacy and numeracy drives for “lumad” children, livelihood programs, relief and rehabilitation, and training and education for rural communities.

Agdamag’s move is definitely alarming, as it can be used to justify going after rural missionaries, priests, sisters and lay workers. We urge our fellow Christians to condemn these preposterous accusations, and to echo the call to end the attack against rural poor and peace advocates

Human rights defenders in our country are in such a perilous situation. We must be ever vigilant and stand together with the Filipino people in exposing and resisting the state’s attacks against those who criticize it.