MEMBERS of a religious group on Monday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to grant protection to two pastors and another member who feel under threat after they were allegedly tagged as communists by military officers.
In a 62-page petition, members of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) said the red-tagging by the military brought fear and intimidation to its ministers.
“This petition for the Writ of Amparo seeks the protection of the honorable court over the two ordained pastors and a lay leader who, because of their gospel work, spiritual ministry, and compassion for the poor and the oppressed, are now facing threats to their own life, liberty, and security.”
The Writ of Amparo is a legal remedy available to anyone whose right to life, liberty, and security is violated by a public official or employee.
The petitioners asked the tribunal to prohibit generals of the Philippine Army and the 2nd Infantry Division and some members of the 59th Infantry Battalion from being within one kilometer of the residence and work addresses of the religious group members.
The members said they have been the subject of surveillance and have been coerced to surrender as members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. (CPP)
During a United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council session on Nov. 17, the United States said Philippine state officials should stop tagging people as communists.
The US State Department included the CPP-NPA in its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in August 2002.
Last month, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told the UN Human Rights Committee that the government should be able to respond to its detractors.
“If a person is able to dish out criticism, they should be able to take criticism as well especially if they are supporting those that are promoting the death of our people,” he said, according to a livestream of the committee’s 136th session.
A Manila trial court earlier ruled the CPP-NPA is a legitimate political movement, despite the Anti-Terrorism Council labeling the groups as terrorist organizations.
The Department of Justice earlier said it would take its plea seeking to declare the CPP as a terrorist group before the Court of Appeals.
“Taking into consideration the totality of these circumstances, it cannot be denied that there is clear danger to the lives of the petitioners,” the religious group members said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez