“It has helped me make a resolution that the peddlers of lies cannot go on and be left unchecked. Yes, they may be Goliath but the presence of Goliath also gives birth to little Davids.” Edith Burgos, mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos, said this at the launching of the Let the Stones Cry Out!, a book published by the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP).
BY RONALYN V. OLEA
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
During the height of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), along with other human rights advocates, took an active role in making interventions to address the wanton violation of human rights.
On Feb. 16, the NCCP launched Let the Stones Cry Out!, a book that chronicles the journey taken by church workers in the Philippines, their partners and the victims and families of rights abuses to seek justice.
The NCCP took the lead role in the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (Ecumenical Voice) and the Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch, formations that waged the campaign to highlight extrajudicial killings and other rampant human rights violations in the Philippines before the international community.
In his speech, Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, NCCP general secretary, said, “Their formation was largely the result of the failure of the three branches of the Philippine government to stop the killings in this country, which took the lives of labor and peasant leaders, lawyers, media people, indigenous people, church people, other activists, and even local government leaders.”
The Ecumenical Voice was organized to bring “Let the Stones Cry Out: An Ecumenical Report on Human Rights in the Philippines and a Call to Action”, which was released in March 2007, to North America and Switzerland.
Members of the Ecumenical Voice and Philippine UPR Watch unveil the cover of the book “Let the Stones Cry Out!”. (Photo by Ronalyn Olea)
Before the said report was launched, a Human Rights and Peace Summit was held at the St. Scholastica’s College. This was in July 2006. The National Christian Council of Japan, the United Methodist Church Connectional Table and the United Church of Canada, the Hong Kong Mission for Human Rights and Peace (comprised of representatives from the Asian Human Rights Commission, Asian Students Association, Hong Kong Bar Association, Hong Kong Christian Institute, Hong Kong Journalists Association, Justice and Peace Commission of the HK Catholic Diocese, St. John’s Cathedral, English-language South China Morning Post newspaper, United Filipinos in Hong Kong, and Chinese-language Yazhou Zhoukan magazine) and the California-Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church sent delegations to look into the human rights situation in the Philippines.
The North American delegation took the report to the U.S. Congress where Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) secretary-general and Bp. Eliezer Pascua, United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) general secretary, testified before the US Congressional Committee on Defense hearing conducted by Sen. Barbara Boxer.
“The report and the testimony at the US Committee on Defense hearing made their mark,” said Reyes.
They also brought the report to Canada and submitted it to the Parliament.