Pastoral Statement

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines deplores in the strongest terms the recent order issued by the Anti- Money Laundering Council (AMLAC) “freezing the bank deposits and assets of a religious group’s center allegedly used to finance or support terrorism. The order covers the three bank accounts of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines’ (UCCP) Haran Center with the Philippine National Bank amounting to more or less PHP600,000” (referring to UCCP-Haran in Davao City) as quoted from the report released by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on March 28, 2021.

What makes such order ludicrous is the fact that UCCP-Haran has only one bank account with Philippine National Bank-Ateneo de Davao branch and with only a very insignificant amount of P72,275.91 which is way below the threshold set forth in the Anti-Money Laundering Law. With a little over P70,000.00 in bank, how in the world can UCCP-Haran finance terrorism?

This is palpably a shameless act of harassment against the Church that has committed no crime but carry out the mission of Christ laid down in Luke 4: 18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives   and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

AMLAC or any state agencies for that matter has no right, whatsoever, to deprive the Church of its mission, much more to accuse it for faithfully doing its Christian mission of providing a refuge for the poor and the oppressed Lumads who had to abandon their ancestral communities because of threats against their lives.

The historical facts evidenced that the Lumads from Talaingod, Davao Del Norte Province and from other provinces were forced to leave their ancestral lands due to intense militarization. Fearing for their lives, they sought refuge in UCCP Haran believing they will be safe there. The reason for this hapless situation of the Lumads has been attributed to government’s giving way to corporate interests to operate large scale mining and logging operations in the Lumads’ ancestral lands.

Such act of AMLAC betrays the very essence of the government’s reason for being “to serve and protect the people”. It unmasks the Duterte government’s pretentious image as it exposes even more its despotic and undemocratic character reminiscent or even shoddier than the dark years of martial law.

We see this action as a cunning scheme of red-tagging in another form meant to besmirch the integrity of our Church and to denigrate our ministry. There is no way the Church will shun away from its calling. Our Christian conviction compels us to an obedient faith in Christ Jesus.  No amount of intimidations or pressures from whoever can force our church to abandon our sacred calling and duty to do Christ’s mission in season or out of season. We would rather obey God than man!

We call on AMLAC to immediately lift its groundless order and issue a public apology for its arbitrary action.
We also enjoin our constituents to join us in prayerful actions.

March 30, 2021

Bishop Melzar D. Labuntog

General Secretary

Bishop Joseph G. Agpaoa
North Luzon Jurisdictional Area

Bishop Emergencio D. Padillo
Middle Luzon Jurisdictional Area

Bishop Joel E. Tendero
South Luzon Jurisdictional Area

Bishop Jerome C. Baris
East Visayas Jurisdictional Area

Bishop Feliciana P. Tenchavez
West Visayas Jurisdictional Area

Bishop Ligaya F. San Francisco
Northwest Mindanao Jurisdictional Area

Bishop Hamuel G. Tequis
Southeast Mindanao Jurisdictional Area

Bishops Emeritus:
Bishop Arturo R. Asi
Bishop Jezer E. Bertoldo

Bishop Isaias L. Bingtan
Bishop Erme R. Camba
Bishop Ebenezer C. Camino
Bishop Constante D. Claro
Bishop Gabriel A. Garol
Bishop Hilario M. Gomez, Jr.
Bishop Marino I. Inong
Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza
Bishop Roel P. Mendoza
Bishop Jaime R. Moriles

Bishop Eliezer M. Pascua
Bishop Dulce Pia-Rose
Bishop Elorde M. Sambat

Bishop Anacleto G. Serafica
Bishop Jessie S. Suarez
Bishop Rizalino Q. Taganas
Bishop Modesto D. Villasanta

Please click this link for the downloadable file, ​We Would Rather Obey God Than Man ​

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