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Groups denounce ‘red-tagging,’ harassment of churches

Church groups on Monday denounced the harassment against their member denominations as they accused the Duterte administration of linking progressive movements to a purported plot to oust the President.

In a press briefing, leaders of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) expressed alarm over “orchestrated” attempts by the government to brand as communists and “vilify” its member churches.

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“[Ever] since [the President] opened the gates for a killing spree of drug suspects at the beginning of his term in a similar fashion, we are compelled to raise alarm and defend these church people,” said Methodist pastor Marie Sol Villalon.

Bishop tagged as ‘salot’

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The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) also called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines to stop the harassment of church workers following threats on the life of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Antonio Ablon.

Graffiti spray-painted along highways in Zamboanga del Sur tagged Ablon as “salot (menace).”

“This ploy is a clear rehash of an old tactic used against peace, justice and rights advocates suggestive of the imminent dark days of martial law,” the UCCP said.

Noise barrage

The NCCP, along with the Promotion of Church People’s Response, an organization of Protestant church leaders, on Monday also reported to the Commission on Human Rights alleged incidents of harassment against church workers.

The church groups also staged a noise barrage and called on the Duterte administration to stop the “scare tactics.”

IFI Supreme Bishop Rhee Timbang said church people were convinced that only state forces had “the manpower, the funds and the technology to launch deliberate and serial efforts.”

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Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon on Monday also said the contradicting statements of the AFP on the Red October plot might have been “calibrated” as part of its “psy-war [operations]” against groups supposedly planning to topple Mr. Duterte. —WITH A REPORT FROM MARLON RAMOS

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TAGS: Church groups, Marie Sol Villalon, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, NCCP, red-tagging, UCCP, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
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