Hands Off the Bearers of the Gospel

News Philippines Mar 8, 2019 at 4:09 pm

Bishops Calang and AblonEcumenical Bishops’ Forum

EBF Statement on the Red-Tagging of Bishop Felixberto Calang and Bishop Antonio Ablon

The Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) decries the malicious tagging of Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Felixberto Calang and Bishop Antonio Ablon as among the “terrorist members of the New People’s Army and Communist Party of the Philippines.” We condemn this slander and the spreading of lies against our brother bishops who are known for their peace and human rights advocacy.

The red-tagging of church leaders has become incessant and an increasing phenomenon under President Rodrigo Duterte’s government. The crackdown on patriotic and progressive organizations has been coupled with the escalation of threats, harassments and intimidations against church people. This is nothing more but an act of state terrorism, the cancerous evil of political repression at work.

We express fear for Bishop Calang and Bishop Ablon’s personal safety as the red-tagging puts them to mortal peril. This could serve as a prelude to a greater harm to their life as it makes them more vulnerable to hostile attacks. In the context of martial law in Mindanao, they can easily become subjects of military operations that target perceived enemies of the state.

There is no doubt that the sole purpose of red-tagging is aimed at silencing church people who minister to marginalized people and communities. We condemn the vilification of Bishop Calang and Bishop Ablon, and many other church people who give witness to the Christian faith amid the multiplicity of injustices in our country.

We urge President Duterte to refrain from red-tagging church people and to end the political persecution of those who uphold the people’s aspirations for just peace, development and democracy. We demand that he put an immediate stop to these attacks and to the curtailing of our people’s rights.

• EBF Executive Board,

• Bishop Deogracias Iniguez Jr

• Roman Catholic Church

• Bishop Rex Reyes Jr

• Episcopal Church in the Philippines

• Bishop Joel Tendero

• United Church of Christ in the Philippines

• Bishop Dindo Ranojo

• Iglesia Filipina Independiente

• Bishop Ciriaco Francisco

• United Methodist Church

February 23, 2019
Quezon City