Rural Missionaries of PH: Donations are used to help the poor, not to fund terrorists | Inquirer Opinion
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Rural Missionaries of PH: Donations are used to help the poor, not to fund terrorists

/ 05:01 AM March 17, 2021

Sr. Elsa Compuesto, MSM; Sr. Edith Eslopor, OSB; Sr. Aurora Bravo, OSB; Sr. Minda Dueñas, SRM; Sr. Rebecca Pacete, MMS; Sr. Odilia Bulayungan, OSB; Sr. Minela Alvarez, RG; Sr. Merlita Rodolfo, MSM; Agnes Mesina, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines

We, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), have been at the forefront of serving rural poor communities in the country for 51 years. We have been living out our mission to collectively witness and act as Christ’s disciples with the rural poor, specifically with poor farmers, agricultural workers, indigenous peoples, and fisherfolk.

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We deplore the Philippine government’s decision to freeze our bank accounts. This persistent harassment sprang from the continuous barrage of malicious allegations that there is “probable cause” that RMP is involved in “terrorism financing.” It can be recalled that the government’s Anti-

Money Laundering Council (AMLC) ordered a 20-day freeze on RMP accounts with the Bank of Philippine Islands. In a resolution dated Dec. 26, 2019, the AMLC also ordered the bank to submit details of related bank accounts and proposed the filing of a petition before the Court of Appeals to extend the freeze order to six months. Moreover, the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 37 on Oct. 7, 2020, issued an asset preservation order against several bank accounts of the RMP over alleged case violation of the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.

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We vehemently deny any involvement in any form of financing terrorist persons and/or organizations. We reiterate our position that donations and funding received by RMP are used to implement projects and programs to help the poor, by providing rural communities the help and services they deserve and that the government refuses to provide.

These series of attacks against RMP and its members are inevitably connected to our work with the poor, marginalized, and oppressed sectors in society. What is evidently clear is that under the newly signed anti-terrorism law (ATL), helping the poor and living out concretely our faith imperative and following the church mandate to build the Church of the Poor will put our liberty and life at risk. This is verified by the wave of harassment and threats RMP members have experienced over the past years. The relentless red-tagging of church workers by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) has become a prelude to illegal arrests and sometimes murder. Over the past years, a number of RMP members have been charged with various crimes including perjury, arson, kidnapping, robbery, and frustrated murder. Hence, we categorically proclaim that the ATL is inimical to democracy and in its most extreme can lead to warrantless arrests, detention without charges, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings.

As we start to commemorate the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in this season of Lent, we also remember the climate of persecution Jesus experienced at the hands of the ruling religious and political elite of his time. The same climate of persecution and fear persists in our time today. But now more than ever, the RMP will continue to fearlessly live out its commitment to be servant-leaders with the poor farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers, and indigenous peoples so that all may truly experience God’s compassion and mercy in the here and now.

Lastly, we call on church people, especially the religious congregations, networks, and our mission partners who have been with us in defending the rights of the crucified poor, to continue standing up with RMP. We need to add more voices so we can continue our prophetic task of journeying with the rural poor toward emancipation and the attainment of a life with dignity, justice, and peace.

Sr. Elsa Compuesto, MSM; Sr. Edith Eslopor, OSB; Sr. Aurora Bravo, OSB; Sr. Minda Dueñas, SRM; Sr. Rebecca Pacete, MMS; Sr. Odilia Bulayungan, OSB; Sr. Minela Alvarez, RG; Sr. Merlita Rodolfo, MSM; Agnes Mesina, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines

[email protected]

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TAGS: donations to help the poor, Letters to the Editor, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines
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