“Stop the Killing. Save Our Schools. Protect Indigenous Life.” In a “flash tabernacle” gathering of nearly 70, representatives from among the Lumad people sought the solidarity of gathered United Methodists, and shared their sacred stories and experiences of discrimination, displacement, and dignity in the south Philipines island of Mindanao. In their journey “for peace with justice,” they called upon United Methodists in particular to support Resolution 6118 –Philippines: Democratic Governance, Human Rights and the Peace Process during General Conference—in part, calling for a stop to US military aid to Philippines. Those gathered at the tabernacle heard from Kerlan Fanagel, chairperson of PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao Region; Matanem Monico Cayog, chairperson of Kalumaran Mindanao and community chieftain/elder; and Bai Norma Capuyan, chairperson of ASLPC Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa Cotabato. Together, they spoke out against ramped militarization, deprivation, and neglect by the government in defense of their ancestral homeland, not only for the sake of indigenous peoples, but “for all humankind.”
As United Methodists, we can no longer be quiet about the injustices faced by our sisters and brothers in the Philippines on a daily basis. The leaders of governments, army, police, justice systems, and media outlets have successfully pushed justice aside for years across the Philippines.
I would like to offer my prayers of thanksgiving for the position of the United Methodist Church to support the Filipino people’s aspirations for genuine democracy and freedom. It is because of the extravagant hospitality that I have experienced alongside fellow UM clergy and lay leaders that I joined the UMC in 2013. We contributed to healing relations with indigenous people through our advocacy with Resolutions on the Philippines. As a CAL PAC Taskforce, we ventured into the urban poor areas of the Philippines, trekked to the gates of a military camp where health workers were being illegally detained and tortured, and journeyed by bus and motorbikes into the hinterlands of Southern Mindanao to visit schools built by the indigenous communities in partnership with clergy and lay leaders. Upon return to the United States, we have raised funds to build more schools and procure corn mills and gardens to support food sustainability efforts.
A few weeks ago, the UMC came together across the Connection to demand justice for yet another massacre in Southern Philippines and to defend the UM leaders and farmers under siege in Spottswood UMC, and to protest the government’s deadly response to people’s justified demands for government assistance in a time of severe drought and climate change. Because of the escalating injustices, we must continue to seek justice. Because of the severity of the foreign intervention that continues to exacerbate the human rights crisis in the Philippines, we must take action and choose to seek truth and fight for justice. How many of our Churches were literally under siege this year? I only know of Spottswood. How can our sisters and brothers in the Philippines continue with their ministry with the poor while under scrutiny and fire? This is a pivotal and prophetic time to love and defend our neighbors.
And now we have the opportunity to extend our extravagant hospitality here at General Conference because indigenous survivors of the human rights violations, advocates for peace, are here with us.
Given the situation of injustice throughout the Philippines, the resolutions passed by General Conference about the Philippines continue to give voice and weight to the United Methodists who are actively living out their faith in service with the people, as well as United Methodists from around the world who continue to raise their voice in calling for justice. These resolutions bring the prophetic voice of the United Methodist Church in the call for justice in today’s public square. This year, Resolution 6118 is being presented to General Conference: Philippines: Democratic Governance, Human Rights and the Peace Process. Resolution 6118 enhances and combines existing resolutions with current developments regarding the struggles of the people, intensifying human rights violations, culture of impunity and the need to continue organizing and advocating for a just and lasting peace.
This was the front page article of our May 12th magazine. Download the whole magazine here.