(A Pastoral Statement)
Alarming reports of harassment and intimidation chucked against the church particularly in Mindanao have reached our attention. An IFI church in Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur was painted with words linking the church to the New People’s Army. IFI investigation found these other painted words: “BAYAN MUNA=NPA,” “NPA SALOT-IFI=NPA” and “UCCP=NPA.” The UCCP is also being linked with communists as depicted in some painted slogans on the wall. Such labeling happened shortly after the military claimed to have uncovered “Red October,” an alleged plot led by the Left to remove President Rodrigo Duterte from power. Like IFI, UCCP is also actively engaged in ministering to Lumads and other indigenous peoples of Mindanao. This ploy is a clear rehash of an old tactic used against peace, justice and human rights advocates suggestive of the imminent dark days of Martial Law.
We strongly deplore this brazen act against the church as we also call on our constituents to remain firm and steadfast in our resolve to do Christ’s mission of serving the poor and the destitute even in frightening times like these. We also call on our people to be vigilant and not be daunted or coerced by such a false witness against the church and the Filipino people.
The UCCP has declared it before and we declare it once more. “The UCCP is not, never was, and will never be a communist.” All our actions and ministries are born out of our deep faith in God and commitment to obey our Lord Jesus Christ. “For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall”, as the Prophet puts it in Isaiah 25:4.
We see these recent developments as a shameless affront to the church for its strong stance to defend the poor and the powerless, a barefaced desecration of basic human rights. Linking the church to the communist is a clear act of false witness which points us to the words in Proverbs 19:5 “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaks lies shall perish.”
THE UCCP INCUMBENT BISHOPS
October 4, 2018
Bishop Melzar D. Labuntog
Bishop Joseph G. Agpaoa
Bishop Assigned to North Luzon Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Joel E. Tendero
Bishop Assigned to South Luzon Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Emergencio D. Padillo
Bishop Assigned to Middle Luzon Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Feliciana P. Tenchavez
Bishop Assigned to West Visayas Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Jerome C. Baris
Bishop Assigned to East Visayas Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Ligaya F. San Francisco
Bishop Assigned to Northwest Mindanao Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Hamuel G. Tequis
Bishop Assigned to Southeast Mindanao Jurisdictional Area
Please click this link for the downloadable file, BE CAUTIOUS OF FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THE CHURCH