|US churches laud NCCP for human rights advocacy|
|Written by Administrator|
|Thursday, 08 November 2007 12:04|
As the news of the US Senate imposing human rights conditions on the additional military aid to the Philippines filtered in, churches in the US presented an Award of Excellence to the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) along with the Philippine Working Group (PWG).
The award was presented to NCCP and PWG, for their "outstanding work in the areas of human rights protection and human rights advocacy in the Philippines" by the General Assembly of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCUSA) and Church World Service (CWS).
This is the first time that the award was given to a group/institution from outside the US.
Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes, NCCP General Secretary stated that "the news about the award was really inspiring especially since human rights violations continue in the country. Just recently, news about the torture and abduction of Ruel Muñasque, brother of our former vice chairperson and a UCCP (United Church of Christ in the Philippines) youth leader, was relayed to us."
Duremdes said that "beyond the award, the churches in the US also lobbied their congresspersons to address the human rights crisis in the Philippines. They also helped in projecting the issue in the international community. We are thus very grateful to them".
In March of this year, the NCCP, with the help of the PWG, convened the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines, a delegation of church leaders, human rights defenders and civil libertarians who presented a human rights report before churches and government bodies in the US, Canada and Switzerland.
A highlight of that effort was the hearing conducted by the sub-committee on foreign relations of the US Senate chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer. The delegation disseminated "Let the Stones Cry Out: An Ecumenical Report on Human Rights in the Philippines and a Call to Action," an 86-page report released by NCCP.
The PWG and NCCP also jointly sponsored the International Ecumenical Conference on Human Rights in the Philippines, in Washington DC to discuss the said report and to plan out strategies to address the human rights problem.
The award giving bodies described the NCCP and PWG as:
"The National Council of Churches in the Philippines is the largest grouping of non-Roman Catholic churches in the Philippines. For more than four decades, the NCCP has kept abreast with and responded to the signs of the times, ever focused on its vision for the wider church and following the example of Jesus.
The Philippine Working Group serves as ecumenical platform that responds and relates to the ecumenical community in the Philippines, to accompany and be in solidarity with them in dealing with escalating human rights violations, especially the disturbing rise in extrajudicial and summary executions in the Philippines. The PWG was formed by the Asia Pacific Forum of Church World Service and includes church and ecumenical bodies in North America, Asia, and Europe."
The Award of Excellence was presented at the NCCUSA and CWS General Assembly on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007 in Iselin, New Jersey. The NCCUSA is "an association of 35 Christian faith groups in the United States with 100,000 local congregations and 45,000,000 adherents".