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Leicester Canon upsets Arroyo: CEN 8.31.07 p 4. August 29, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Civil Rights, Episcopal Church of the Philippines.

The Philippine government has placed the urban canon of Leicester Cathedral, the Rev. Barry Naylor, on a “watch list” of politically suspect individuals, the Philippine human rights news service, Bulatlat reported on Aug 26.

Canon Naylor, along with 30 other Europeans has been placed on a blacklist by the government of President Gloria Arroyo due to their opposition to the government’s human rights record, and may ban his future entry to the country.

In August 2005, Canon Naylor served as spokesman for the International Solidarity Mission to the Philippines that looked into the spate of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

Canon Naylor told The Church of England Newspaper that he believed his appearance on the government’s enemies list arose from his “continuing commitment to speaking out about human rights abuses, forced disappearances and slayings that continue to take place in that land.”

The government saw enemies everywhere, he observed. “In a radio interview I participated in, when in the Philippines, my views were dismissed by a Colonel from the military who said they had incontrovertible evidence that I was in the pay of Osama Bin laden and the Abu Sayyaf (Islamist) militants,” he noted, whereas “my only funding came from my stipend, the Diocese of Leicester and USPG.”

Writing in the USPG’s journal Canon Naylor claimed the police and army were behind much of the violence aimed at keeping the poor and marginalized in place.

On Oct 3, 2006 Bishop Alberto Ramento of the Philippine Independent Church, a church in full Communion with the US Episcopal Church, was found stabbed to death at his Tarlac City rectory. An outspoken critic of the government, Bishop Ramento received threats warning him to cease his civil rights work prior to his murder.

Canon Naylor said that during his 2005 mission “We listened to many testimonies from witnesses and victims of human rights abuses, all alleging the involvement of the forces of ‘law and order’. We heard of forced disappearances and the forced displacement of communities, especially where foreign companies want to pursue mining or mineral extraction.”

He stated he met one “group of peasants who spoke about homes burnt, livelihoods lost and relations injured during forced mass evacuations by the military. We met weeping widows and distraught children, and their number is being added to week by week.’ In the summer of 2005, three Filipino priests were killed by masked assassins after speaking out on behalf of the poor.”

In the Philippines Canon Naylor said he found “a real darkness; a pervading sense of fear and terror.”

“There is a culture of corruption and collusion, as recent reports from both the United Nations and Amnesty International have highlighted as they have looked at the spate of extra-judicial killings,” he told us.

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