FOR US IN THE IFI, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD
OM’s Statement on Malicious Insinuation against the IFI.
“You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand.” (Exodus 23:1)
1. We accidentally stumbled early tonight a media conference covered by Pinas News TV uploaded at YouTube today, October 30, 2020, involving a certain “Ka Eric” openly identifying the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) as among the churches here in the Philippines fronting for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed-wing the New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). We find his statement outrageously pathetic as his malicious allegation simply parroted the incredulous accusation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that IFI has connections with CPP-NPA-NDFP and serving for their recruitment of members. We discovered at one time that the NTF-ECLAC website carried infographics naming the IFI as among the religious organizations working with the CPP-NPA-NDFP. We have reasons to suspect further that the same NTF-ECLAC is responsible for the continuing surveillance, harassment, vilification, and red-tagging of our bishops, clergy, and lay workers, as it has indiscriminately done so, both in the past and recent time, against several persons, legal institutions and people’s organizations.
2. We came to know through various news materials posted in social media that this is the “Ka Eric” of highly questionable character reportedly recruited and managed by NTC-ECLAC who is going around at the moment to accuse and red-tag individuals, personalities, politicians, groups, and churches which are critical to the government of President Duterte particularly of his anti-poor, anti-people, anti-Filipino, and anti-peace policies, and his rising tyrannical rule expressed in his penchant for draconian, repressive measures like the Anti-Terrorism Law. The oozing arrogance and apparent over-confidence displayed by this certain “Ka Eric” in the media conference points to an obvious fact that he is working under the auspices of a powerful entity in the government serving as his sponsors. Gen. Parlade paraded him in many instances as his credible witness to vouch his accusation against the progressive Partylists members comprising the Makabayan Bloc now sitting in the House of Representatives. Even prominent politicians in the likes of Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno and Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla and women celebrities in the persons of Ms. Angel Locsin, Ms. Catriona Gray and Ms. Liza Soberano did not escape from the red-baiting of the NTC-ECLAC spokesperson. Gen. Parlade was quoted in more than few times flaunting the Anti-Terrorism Law as resource to finally pin-down local communist supporters. His activities, now reinforced by his stooge in “Ka Eric”, are ominous of what is to come with the Anti-Terrorism Law in the lives of Filipino people.
3. We strongly condemn this fresh attack against the IFI. We deplore these irresponsible acts of maligning the Church and vilifying its lay and ordained workers. To misconstrue and associate the prophetic witness, social advocacy and pastoral works being the core elements of the missionary work of the IFI as supporting the CPP-NPA-NDFP is a great injustice to the IFI and its faithful members all over the world. Since 1902, long before the CPP-NPA-NDFP emerged into existence, the IFI has already been saying and demonstrating its pro-people instances being a Church called by the liberating God of history in the Lord Jesus and born out of the womb of the 1896 Filipino Revolution against foreign occupation. Its faith-imperative and rich heritage continue to propel the IFI to live out its calling to witness God’s love in the world and to accompany the struggling sectors of the Filipino people in their journey towards a better, just, peace-filled and compassionate society. We take the accusation of this unscrupulous “Ka Eric” and his sponsors terribly wrong and to have understood the life, faith and witness of the IFI as awfully out of context, to borrow his own words, from the corporate mission of the IFI long established in Philippine history.
4. We denounce this red-scare tactic of Duterte’s government through its security forces and its NTF-ELCAC because it endangers the lives of our ordained and lay workers who are committed to pursue the mission and ministry of the Church. We hold this dispensation accountable to any untoward eventuality that may befall upon any of our workers.
5. We ask church leaders from the churches named by this certain “Ka Eric” to organize and consolidate efforts, with the help of human rights watchdogs and lawyers, to bring this “Ka Eric” and his sponsors to the bar of justice. As a lackey, this ridiculous “Ka Eric” has no qualms to accuse churches and others as being a mouth-piece of people in the Duterte government who could only see red in everything and who are desperate to quell Filipino people’s restlessness and silence their legal dissent.
6. We ask Congress to defund NTF-ELCAC that only wastes government funds to subsidize its unconstitutional activities and mobilize the budget instead to capacitate social services like health, education and housing. We believe there is still a sense of decency and civility left among our legislators to exercise check and balance mechanism against a highly immoral and abusive actuation of a government agency.
7. We ask our ecumenical partners and networks overseas to lobby in their own governments to withdraw their military aid which the Philippine government uses to underwrite its paranoia against perceived enemies of the state and its attacks against the democratic rights of the Filipino people, intensified ironically in the midst of a grave pandemic situation.
8. We ask concerned, peace loving and people of goodwill among Filipinos to resist and oppose the Anti-Terrorism Law. We have Gen. Parlade and the NTF-ELCAC as the best argument against the implementation of a law that only intends to terrorize its own people.
9. We ask bishops, clergy and lay members of the IFI to continue to be zealous with our faith and heritage and to persist in persevering joyfully in faithful discipleship and bold witness even amidst persecution. As a Church, let us take comfort in the words of our Lord Jesus: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12, NRSV). And in times such as this, let us root our life, faith and witness as Church in the Lord who said: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).“If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.” (1 Peter 4:14, NRSV)++
THE MOST REVD RHEE M. TIMBANG
30 October 2020