In the wake of recent nearly constant criticism of the Philippine Government, the National Council of Churches (NCCP) has been included in a list of “front organizations of local communist terrorist groups.” The Department of National Defense released the list on November 5, which also includes a number of non-government organizations that claim to have a humanitarian and service-oriented program.
According to Evangelical Focus, the organization released a statement that says the NCCP “decries the baseless and unfounded inclusion of its name in the list […] and respectfully calls on the government to seriously review and revisit the accusations and engage in peacebuilding instead.”
The NCCP said its staff, member churches and members are now under threat. It also complained that the government’s decision to classify the Christian organization as a terrorist group will delay or prevent it from doing its work of providing services to marginalized communities.
The NCCP has accused the government of weaponizing the law against activists. NCCP’s constant criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs may have caused the government’s hostility against the group. However, many other religious groups have been actively protesting against the government despite the supposed separation of church and state.
The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches stood behind the NCCP as they spoke out to condemn the government’s decision. In their own statement, the PCEC said: “WE CALL THE GOVERNMENT TO RESCIND THE ACCUSATION. We are unwavering in our confidence that NCCP is not a communist front. Like PCEC, it is an organization of sincere men and women which longs to see Jesus Christ enthroned on a transformed and flourishing nation.”
The PCEC admits that “in regard to insurgency, PCEC together with NCCP and other Christian denominations, have been constantly supporting the government of the Republic of the Philippines/ National Democratic front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiations.” The NDFP is a well-known communist organization that has been a thorn on the government’s side for many decades.
Finally, on behalf of the communist organization, the PCEC appealed to President Duterte “to again walk the path of peaceful negotiations. We are convinced it is the only path that will lead to lasting peace.” The President had previously ended all negotiations with the communist party and has instead formed a national task force to end local communist armed conflict.