Media Advisory





The UCCP General Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the Church, has adopted a Resolution and Statement of Great Concern Regarding the Current Explosive Breakout in Human Rights Violations.  Ironically, and tragically, the Resolution was submitted by the National Committee on Conflict Resolution Chair Attorney Emilio C. Capulong, Jr.; Atty Capulong is the older brother of the latest UCCP member slain, Mr. Noli Capulong. Only hours before Noli Capulong was gunned down in Calamba, Laguna around 6 pmon May 27, the 8th Quadrennial General Assembly adopted the Resolution of Great Concern by a resounding majority.  We can hardly contain our grief and outrage for what is happening to our Church people.



In the last three weeks alone, we have had FOUR church workers and members slain by assassins, and TWO frustrated murders:



1.     Rev. Jemias Tinambacan, 49 years old, Pastor of UCCP Calaran, Calamba, Misamis Occidental, gunned down on May 9, 2006 at 5:30 pm. He was driving in a private van with the wife Rev. Malou Tinambacan.  Four armed assailants, riding two motorcycles, suddenly shot to death Rev. Jemias Tinambacan.  The car crashed and Rev. Malou Tinambacan heard them say "Buhi pa ang Baye" (the woman is still alive), she scrambled to the floor beside her husband's dead body and heard three more shots fired in her direction.  She has identified one assailant as a certain Mamay Guimalan.  Rev. Malou Tinambacan sustained injuries but has survived the assassination attempt. Rev. Jemias Tinambacan was an active member of Kapatirang Simbahan para sa Bayan (Kasimbayan), Promotion of C hurch People's Response (PCPR), Gloria Step Down Movement-Misamis Occidental, Provincial Chairman of Bayan Muna-Misamis Occidental, and Executive Director of Mission for Indigenous People and Self-Reliance People's Assistance.



2.     Mr. Jose Doton, 62 year old, Member of UCCP San Nicolas, Pangasinan, gunned down around 10:30am on May 16, 2006. Jose and his brother, Cancio Doton (also a UCCP member), were riding their motorcycle when a second motorcycle with two men sped up behind them firing three shots; the assassins' motorcycle fired twice more as they overtook the Doton brothers' motorcycle.  When the Doton motorcycle had fallen on the road, one of the assassins alighted from their motorcycle, shot Jose in the head at close range, jumped back on the waiting bike and sped off.  Cancio Doton survived the incident with two bullet wounds (one probably hitting him after piercing through Jose).  Mr. Jose Doton was Secretary General of Bayan Muna-Pagasinan and President of Tignayan dagiti Mannalon A Mangwaya waya (TIMMAWA).



3.     Pastor Andy Pawikan, 30 years old, Licenciate Pastor of UCCP Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, forcibly taken, tortured and believed killed around 4pm when a gunshot was heard, on May 21, 2006.  His body was recovered at 8am the following morning.  Pastor Andy was on his way home from Sunday Worship with his wife, children and other women.  He was forcibly taken away by the 48th Infantry Battalion-AFP.  It is alleged that the motivation of the 48th Infantry was to extract information on a recent encounter of the AFP and the NPA; insurgents were alleged to have hidden somewhere near the area.   Two other persons are also still missing (both were companions of Pastor Andy Pawikan in resolving the "Kaingin" issue against possible landowners).  PNP-San Jose City reported a legitimate encounter as the cause of Pastor Pawikan's death; the absurdity of this claim is not only backed by eye-witness but the reality that Pastor Pawikan was killed in his "Barong Tagalog."  Furthermore, the municipality of Pantabangan refused the UCCP-Fact Finding Team entrance to the area.



4.     Mr. Noel (Noli) Capulong, 51 years old, Member of UCCP Calamba, Laguna and Chairperson of the Christian Witness and Service of UCCP Northeast Southern Tagalog Conference, gunned down around 6pm, May 27, 2006. Noli Capulong left a meeting with a Barangay Captain at Barangay Paraian, Calamba, to attend a prayer meeting for his ill siblings.  He was driving a private jeep.  He was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle wearing bonnets.  He sustained four gunshot wounds and was declared dead on arrival when taken to a hospital only 50 meters away.  Mr. Noli Capulong was Deputy Secretary General of Bayan Muna TK, regional staff of Bagong Alianza Makabayan, and spokesperson for the Southern Tagalog Environmental Advocacy Movement (STEAM).  



We are aghast that these killings are happening with such obvious connection and direction.  We must speak the truth and name them appropriately as assassinations/extra-judicial killings.  Many of our members strongly believe that these killings are being perpetrated by elements of the Philippine National Police and/or Armed Forces of the Philippines. Regardless, we call on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to address this undeniable pattern and put an end to these crimes.  The fabric of our society is being torn apart by these immoral acts against the civilians of our beloved country, and our Church is in mourning for our murdered workers and members.  The United Church of Christ in the Philippines will not stop proclaiming good news for the poor, sight for the blind, justice for the hungry, freedom for the captives and liberation for the oppressed.  We will continue to work for justice. These martyrs strongly serve as test ament of our resolve for a world of peace based on justice.  We pray that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the whole of her administration, and all of the people of the Philippines will restore the dignity of all human life and uphold civil liberties.  These extra-judicial killings must be stopped!



Reference:    Bishop Elmer M. Bolocon


                      General Secretary


                      0917-805-7167


                      May 29, 2006


                      Digos, Davao del Sur



RESOLUTION AND STATEMENT


of Great Concern ReGARDING the


Current Explosive Breakout In


Human Rights ViolationS






WHEREAS, reports have lately piled up about the increasing number of militants  who had been liquidated  under circumstances that seemingly point to the military as responsible.  A number of church members and leaders of the UCCP, perceived by the government to be activists or left-leaning, have been among the victims.



WHEREAS, in the face of these awful depredations, government authorities have not  made any serious and painstaking investigation. Passivity and silence, evasions and denials, distortions and prevarications, characterize the stale responses of the establishment, including those coming from the Office of no less than the Commander-in-Chief.



WHEREAS, it behooves the present government, which is supposed to uphold the ways of justice, the imperatives of due process, and the tenets of Christian decency and morality, including the military leadership, under the command and direction of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to resolutely and uncompromisingly ferret out from our midst these thugs and assassins who now reign havoc on the lives and basic rights of  those of our people who are afflicted, and to immediately stop the violent and wanton onslaughts.



WHEREAS, as a church body charged with the prophetic role and mission for its people, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines is thereby called upon to denounce this continuing viciousness and iniquity, and to proceed to render comfort and support to the victims.



WHEREFORE, it is hereby RESOLVED by the delegates of the General Assembly of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines  in plenary session –



a)  to strongly decry and denounce the ongoing unmitigated killings of militants and activists in our society, and hereby call upon the military leadership, especially the Commander-in-Chief, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to immediately cause the stopping of these extra-judicial executions, and to employ all means to bring to justice, without delay, all those responsible in the commission of the crimes;



b)  to urge all the local churches to organize and mobilize  so as to address effectively this particular upsurge in human rights violations; and



c)  to encourage and support lawyer-members of the Church, in all the jurisdictions, with regard to their need and desire to formally organize and be presently linked together on a nationwide basis, with the assistance of friends and partners of the Church, for the purpose of defending, under our laws and democratic system, those of our church members, and others in the community, who are victims of gross and flagrant violations  of human rights.

                               
 

Adopted by the 8th Quadrennial General Assembly in Session, May 27, 2006, Digos City, Davao Del Sur.