UCCP condemns the threat and harassment of Pastor June Ver Mangao,
files complaint with the Commission on Human Rights
 

UCCP Bldg, CHR QC

 

September 4, 2013

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PRESS STATEMENT
September 4, 2013

STOP HARASSMENT AND INTIMIDATION OF CHURCH PEOPLE!
END IMPUNITY NOW!

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. (John 15:18-20)

On August 20, 2013, surveillance operations on Pastor June Ver Mangao were shamelessly conducted by intelligence agents of the 1st Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, under the command of Col. Jose Augusto Villareal based in Sta. Maria, Laguna. Two unidentified persons visited three UCCP Mabitac Church Council officers in separate incidents within that one day. Using different fictitious cover stories: namely, being CAFGU looking for a born-again Church in Paagahan where the UCCP Mabitac Chairperson resides; asking the name and whereabouts of the Pastor just three houses away from the UCCP Chapel while pretending to have a child baptized and asking how much the baptismal fee would be; and, inquiring on any house for rent from a UCCP member who rents a bed space near the Municipal Hall. All of these UCCP members were asked the same questions probing for the identity of Pastor June Ver as well as his whereabouts. The intelligence agents even attempted to secure Pastor June Ver’s picture.
Under the cloak of Oplan Bayanihan, schemes are designed and implemented to attempt to link human rights defenders and advocates to the underground left and in the process harass, threaten and intimidate them. No less than the Chief of Police of Mabitac and his police intelligence officer confirmed that the surveillance was done by elements of Philippine Army in order to attempt to verify Pastor June Ver’s links to the leftist movement. Ironically, but not surprisingly, the desperate way the military operates in the guise of protecting the people ends up violating their legitimate rights.

Pastor June Ver Mangao recently graduated from Union Theological Seminary in March of 2013. He started his ministry as the Local Church Pastor of UCCP Mabitac in June of 2011 and was momentarily away from January to June of 2012, when he was chosen as one of the exchange students in a partnership between the Union Theological Seminary-Philippines and Stockholm School of Theology-Sweden. Pastor Jun Ver resumed his work in Mabitac, when he returned in June of 2012. As a young pastor, Pastor June Ver has shown exemplary passion for Church mission. Within a short time as pastor of UCCP Mabitac, he successfully organized a mission outreach in Brgy. Kabulusan, Pakil, Laguna which is about 15 kilometers away. Through his leadership, UCCP Mabitac has also been able to put up a community center for children and parent development, serving the poorest among the poor in the community.

With clear evidence of his capabilities and potential, Pastor June Ver Mangao was entrusted with enormous responsibility when he was designated by the Northeast Southern Tagalog Conference as Chairperson of the Community Ministries Committee. This rare opportunity for a young pastor was a natural response to people witnessing his passion for mission, especially with the poor and downtrodden.
 

One focus of the conference-wide community ministries is the Prison Ministry in Laguna Provincial Jail. Based on the Conference Annual Session’s commitment in Luisiana, Laguna in 2011 for the so-called Lumban 3, Pastor June Ver regularly visits these political prisoners in the jail and he also effectively organized the church people’s presence in court hearings. Both Pastor June Ver and the Conference have no other inkling as to the reason why Pastor June Ver has been threatened, harassed and intimidated other than his commitment with the UCCP to defend the poor and the oppressed.

We view Pastor June Ver’s surveillance—intended to harass, threaten and intimidate him—as an attack on the United Church of Christ in the Philippines as a whole. The UCCP Northeast Southern Tagalog Conference has reported persistent surveillance. Brother Noli Capulong was extra-judicially killed on May 27, 2006. Pastor Berlin Guerrero was abducted and tortured on May 27, 2007 and on the following day detained under trumped-up charges. Pastor Rodel Canja was abducted on May 6, 2008 in an attempt to get information and coerce him to testify against Pastor Berlin. And now, Pastor June Ver Mangao has been targeted for harassment by the military intelligence.
As Christians, we clearly see the life-threatening experiences of Pastor June Ver as being similar to what the authorities did to our Lord Jesus Christ when he preached and worked for the liberation of the poor and oppressed of his time. The voice of Jesus echoes to us today when he said, “Remember the word that I said unto you: The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” Our mission and ministry is a faith imperative. We will, in every way possible, seek to humbly follow our Lord, even if it brings us to a point of death for the sake of the poor and the oppressed. In this faith, we will continue to work for the building of a life-giving and humane society where peace, justice and righteousness prevail.

We, therefore, call all UCCP members and ecumenical partners in the Philippines and around the world to condemn the threat and harassment of Pastor June Ver Mangao as well as expose all forms of human rights violations in the Philippines. Even more, we call on President Simeon Benigno Aquino III to exercise his task as commander-in-chief to hold military perpetrators of human rights violations accountable and to honor his words and promises to end human rights violations. In spite of the Aquino administration’s persisting climate of impunity, the UCCP stands united in our call for the respect of human rights of all people. Though harassment and intimidation tactics will likely continue under Oplan Bayanihan, we will not stop our mission and ministry with the poor. We stand united and call for an end to impunity. The human rights of all persons, including human rights defenders and Church pastors must be respected! ###
Reference:



Bishop Arturo R. Asi, South Luzon Jurisdictional Area 0927-786-0922

   
 
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Press conference at the UCCP national offices
     
           
     
     
     









 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     
 
     
     

 

 

At the Commission on Human Rights:
Filing of complaints and picket rally
     
     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

 

Media Release
02 September 2013

KMU hits continued harassment vs. NCR leader

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the continued harassment of its leader for the National Capital Region, saying the Aquino government is desperately trying to intimidate critics amidst mounting calls for the abolition of the presidential pork barrel and the pork barrel system.

Anna Velez, wife of KMU vice-chairperson for NCR Roy Velez, reported that men claiming to represent the “Warrant of Arrest Section” of the Las Piñas City Police came to their house last Sunday morning, displayed what is supposedly an arrest warrant, and shouted at her claims that there’s a warrant for his husband’s arrest over an ambush in Lagawe, Ifugao as well as questions about his whereabouts.

Roy Velez is facing two warrants of arrest over two consecutive ambushes allegedly carried out by rebel group New People’s Army in 2012 – the first in Labo, Camarines Norte and the second in Lagawe, Ifugao. The incident came at the heels of the court’s junking of the arrest warrant issued over the Lagawe, Ifugao ambush.

“Faced with mounting calls for the abolition of the presidential pork barrel and the pork barrel system, the Aquino government desperately wants to silence its critics through harassments. These moves show that it will do everything to defend the wellspring of corruption that is the pork barrel system,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chair.

“The government is trying to intimidate critics like Velez and KMU into silence because it is on a panic mode, sensing the growing anti-Aquino sentiment among critics of the pork barrel system and corruption in government,” he added.

“The government has every reason to be afraid because Aquino has repeatedly exposed himself as a defender of corruption and not the adversary of corruption that he initially claimed to be,” he said.

Anna Velez demanded that the men leave a copy of the arrest warrant but the men left without doing so.

“The Aquino government is grossly mistaken if it believes such harassments will silence leaders and organizations who are calling for the abolition of the presidential pork barrel and the pork barrel system,” Ustarez said.

“These harassments will only embolden the people to fight until the presidential and congressional pork barrel funds are abolished. A few weeks before the anniversary of the declaration of martial law, we are reminded that martial law is the combination of unbridled corruption in government and government repression,” he added.

KMU is calling for the speedy and just resolution of the case against Velez, KMU NCR deputy secretary-general Amelita Gamara, Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees organizers Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano, Alliance of Concerned Teachers leader Rene Boy Abiva, and Pagkakaisa ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide organizer Virgilio Corpuz.

Warrants of arrest have been issued against all of them in relation to trumped-up charges filed in relation to alleged ambushes carried out by the NPA.

Reference: Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson, 0908-6491992

 

Filing complaint with the CHR
     
           
     
     
     
     
 
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Press Statement

Sept. 2, 2013
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Karapatan calls Noynoy Aquino to resume peace talks, release detained NDFP consultants

Karapatan today joined the “Caravan for Peace” as it slammed the arrest of peace consultant, Loida Tuzo Magpatoc, 54, and called for the release of all JASIG-protected peace consultants of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The “Caravan for Peace” is a joint initiative of the Citizens Alliance for Just Peace (CALL for JUST PEACE) composed of peace advocates from Sulong CARHRIHL, Pilgrims for Peace, Philippine Economic Peace Platforms (PEPP) and Waging Peace Philippines. In July, the same organizations issued a joint statement calling for the resumption of the peace talks between the GPH and the NDFP on the basis of previously signed agreements, especially the Hague Joint Declaration signed on September 1, 1992 and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed in 1995.

The Hague Joint Declaration served as the framework of the GPH-NDFP peace talks since 1992 but has been called by the Aquino government as a “document of perpetual division”; while due observance of the JASIG has been put to question as the GPH continues to arrest JASIG-protected NDFP consultants to the peace process.

“The JASIG is again violated with the arrest of Loida Magpatoc who was arrested on July 28 in Digos City, Davao del Sur. The arrest shows the Aquino government blatant disregard to the agreements the GPH had signed with the NDFP,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Magpatoc is a holder of NDFP Document of Identification No. ND978254 using the assumed name PuriFeleo. Magpatoc’s arrest brings to 13 the total number of JASIG-protected peace consultants in detention.

Palabay added, "it is clear that the Aquino administration already killed the peace talks between his government and the NDFP as it continues to violate previously signed agreements and by the continued surveillance, harassment and, arrest of NDFP peace consultants and staff on trumped up criminal charges."

Magpatoc, in the course of undertaking her work on the Social and Economic Reform agenda of the peacetalks, was arrested for charges of robbery with double homicide and damage to properties. She was detained at the Digos City PNP Station for six days with continuous tactical interrogations by Dept. Of National Defence - National, 10th Infantry Division Task Force Tugis, and CIDG Reg. 11.On August 21, she was transferred at the Camp Bagong Diwa (female dorm) where she is facing nine cases, all false criminal charges.

Meanwhile, NDFP Panel Member Fidel V. Agcaoili sent a protest letter to the GPH Negotiating Panel on the surveillance and harassment against him by the two motorcycle-riding men on 29 July 2013. Agcaoili was in Manila for consultations and meetings with several groups on the possibility of the resumption of the peace negotiations.

Palabay also cited the inaction of the GPH on the enforced disappearance of 10 NDFP peace consultants and staff during the Arroyo government.

"It is ironic that those who seriously work for the resolution of the roots of unpeace become targets of the government’s surveillance, harassment and illegal arrest and other forms of human rights violations. It is a shame that the Aquino government mouths peace but cannot stand by all the agreements the GPH signed with the NDFP. Aquino’s hullabaloo on peace is simply a psywar tactic of its Oplan Bayanihan," Palabay concluded. ###

 

Bulatlat's Len Olea interviews Pastor June Ver Mangao
     
           
     
     
     
           


PRESS STATEMENT
United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)
Southern Luzon Jurisdictional Area (SLJA)
September 4, 2013

STOP HARASSMENT AND INTIMIDATION OF CHURCH PEOPLE!
STOP HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION!
STOP IMPUNITY NOW!

Juan 15
v18"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. v19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. v20Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

Matthew 10:
v16I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. So be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves.v17Watch out for people who will take you to court and have you beaten in their meeting places.v18Because of me, you will be dragged before rulers and kings to tell them and the Gentiles about your faith. v19But when someone arrests you, don't worry about what you will say or how you will say it. At that time you will be given the words to say. v20But you will not really be the one speaking. The Spirit from your Father will tell you what to say.

The surveillance scheme against Pastor June Ver Mangao is desperately done by the intelligence of 1st IB of the Philippine Army under the command of Col. Jose Augusto Villareal based in Sta. Maria, Laguna in August 20, 2013. Two unidentified persons visited three UCCP Mabitac members on separate occasions on that day who are officers of the local church council. They have been using different fictitious character such as CAFGU asking for a born again Church in Paagahan where the Chairperson of the UCCP Mabitac is residing, asking the name and whereabouts of Pastor to a member living three houses away from the UCCP Chapel pretending a child of him to be baptized and asking how much is the baptismal fee, and looking for a house for rent in one member residing near the Municipal Hall who is renting a bed space. All of them were asked the same questions obviously wanting to identify Pastor June Ver and his whereabouts. They even attempted to ask for the Pastor’s picture.

This scheme is designed and implemented under the cloak of Oplan Bayanihan linking human rights defenders and advocates to the underground left in order to harass, threaten and intimidate them. No less than the Chief of Police of Mabitac and his police intelligence officer confirmed that the surveillance was done by the elements of Philippine Army in order to verify Pastor June Ver’s links to leftist movement. This is nothing new as always will be the desperate way the military dastardly doing their job in guise of protecting the people end up violating their legitimate rights.

Pastor June Ver Mangao has just graduated in the seminary last March 2013. He started to work as local church Pastor of UCCP Mabitac since June 2011 and was momentarily away from January to June 2012 when he was chosen as one of the exchange students in a partnership between Union Theological Seminary of the Philippine and Stockholm School of Theology of Sweden. He pursued his work in Mabitac when he came back in June 2012. As a young Pastor, he has passion for church mission. In so short a time, he was able to organize a mission outreach in Brgy. Kabulusan, Pakil, Laguna more or less 15 kilometers away from Mabitac. Through his leadership, UCCP Mabitac has been able to put up a community center for children and parents development serving the poorest among the poor in the community.
 


Pastor June Ver Mangao was trusted with enormous responsibility although he was just newly graduated, a rare opportunity for a young pastor when he was designated by the Northeast Southern Tagalog Conference as Chairperson of Community Ministries Committee. His passion for mission especially for the poor and downtrodden was the reason for his appointment that he has been doing with all his mind, heart and soul. One of the focuses of the community ministries that they have been doing well is the Prison Ministry in Laguna Provincial Jail. He regularly visits the political prisoners and organized church people’s presence in court hearings based on the Conference Annual Session’s commitment in Luisiana , Laguna in 2010 for the so called Lumban 3.

Pastor June Ver and the Conference had no other inkling the reason why he was being threatened, harassed and intimidated other than the UCCP and his commitment to defend the poor and the oppressed. We view that Pastor June Ver’s surveillance to harass, threaten and intimidate him is an attack to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines as a whole. UCCP Northeast Southern Tagalog Conference has been experiencing systematic surveillance when Noli Capulong was extra judicially killed in May 27, 2006, when Pastor Berlin Guerrero was abducted and imprisoned in May 27, 2007 and slapped with trumped up charges, when Pastor Rodel Canja was abducted in May 6, 2008 to foment information and coercing him to testify against Pastor Berlin, and now Pastor June Ver Mangao.

We saw this life threatening experience similar to what the authorities did to our Lord Jesus Christ when he preached and worked for the liberation of the poor and oppressed of his time. The voice of Jesus echoes to us today when he said, “v20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” In every way possible we will humbly follow our Lord even at the point of death for the sake of the poor and the oppressed working towards the building of a just and humane society where peace, justice and righteousness prevail.

We therefore call all UCCP members and Christian brethren in the Philippines and the world to condemn all forms of human rights violations in the Philippines even be it in the form of threats, harassments and intimidations such as what the military are doing to Pastor June Ver Mangao. We call on the President of the Philippines to honor his words and promises by stopping all forms of human rights violations, stop harassment and intimidation of church people and human rights defenders, and end impunity now!
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WHAT: Press Conference I Protest Action I Filing of Case at CHR
WHEN: September 4, 2013, 9am
WHERE: UCCP Edsa, 877 EDSA, Q.C. (Press Con and Protest Action, 9am)
CHR (Filing of Case, 11am)


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