Group hits gov’t order freezing the assets of Lumad sanctuary

“For decades now, UCCP-Haran Center has been a known sanctuary for Lumad people in Southern Mindanao, whose communities have repeatedly been terrorized by the Philippine Army and paramilitary groups. The UCCP Haran is simply performing their calling to ‘participate in the establishment of a just and compassionate social order.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – An indigenous peoples’ group assailed the freezing of accounts of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) – Haran Center in Davao del Sur.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), in a resolution dated March 12, ordered the freezing of UCCP Haran’s three bank accounts and a real property under the name of Brokenshire Integrated Health Ministries, Inc. The AMLC allegedly found that “the assets are used to finance terrorism” which is in violation of the Republic Act 10168 or Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act.

Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination condemned the action, saying it is ironic that amid massive corruption and the non-disclosure of President Duterte’s statement of assets, liabilities and networth, human rights advocates are the ones whose accounts are being investigated.

“For decades now, UCCP-Haran Center has been a known sanctuary for Lumad people in Southern Mindanao, whose communities have repeatedly been terrorized by the Philippine Army and paramilitary groups. The UCCP Haran is simply performing their calling to ‘participate in the establishment of a just and compassionate social order,’” the group said in a statement.

They added that the UCCP compound in Haran also served as shelter for the displaced Lumad due to intense militarization of their communities.

“That is not a crime. It is an act of faith and kindness,” the group said.

Constant target

In the past years, the UCCP-Haran has been subjected to a series of harassment as the Lumad continue to seek refuge in their compound.

In 2015, the police forcibly entered the compound hurting a number of elders. In 2016, there was a fire incident in the Lumad sanctuary that resulted in the injuries of five people. This was followed by several incidents of raids and attempts to break in the sanctuary by state forces.

In September last year, 48 church workers of the UCCP and their advocates were charged with trafficking, child abuse and violation of international humanitarian law.

Read: Church harassed for giving sanctuary to Lumad refugees

In a report by Davao Today, Bishop Hamuel Tequis of UCCP maintained, “The Church’s mission is to help the marginalized and the oppressed such as the Lumad. It is sad that we are being persecuted for doing God’s mission.” http://davaotoday.com/main/human-rights/uccp-bishop-to-ntf-elcac-no-abuse-and-child-trafficking-at-haran-shelter/

Meanwhile, Sandugo assailed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for its moves to eject the Lumad in the premises of UCCP-Haran. “This is because the said sanctuary has exposed the military’s atrocities against Manobo communities in Mindanao,” the group said.

“By exposing their real situation, the struggling Lumad have earned the solidarity, not only of the religious, but of other institutions, organizations and individuals that advocate for peace here and abroad. It has also spurred support for the protection of the imperiled Pantaron Mountain Range, one of the few remaining virgin rainforests in the country currently threatened by destructive projects such as corporate mining and logging,” Sandugo said.

Sandugo added that the NTF-ELCAC aims to cut support for the Lumad “in order to open the floodgates for these money-making projects.”

“With the Anti-Terror Law, the NTF-ELCAC can simply tag the New People Army as a terrorist organization, easily link the Lumad to the NPAs and justify all kinds of repression versus Lumad civilians and their supporters. In this way, the NTF-ELCAC shows that it is protecting corporate interests, and not the people’s welfare,” the group said.

The UCCP-Haran is not the first institution to suffer freezing of assets. The AMLC also ordered a 20-day freeze on Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) bank accounts due to allegations of financing the NPA. On Oct. 7, 2020 the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 37 also issued an Asset Preservation Order against several bank accounts of the RMP over alleged charges of financing terrorism. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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