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New Primate for the Philippines: The Church of England Newspaper, June 13, 2014 June 26, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Philippines.
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Bishop Renato Abibico of Northern Luzon has been elected the 5th Prime Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines at the 9th meeting of the Regular Synod of the ECP held at Trinity University of Asia in Quezon City on 14 May 2014. Educated at Trinity College in Quezon City and the University of Edinburgh, Bishop Abibico trained for the ministry at St Andrews Theological Seminary in the Philippines and succeeds the Most Rev. Edward Malacdon as primate.

Episcopal approval for contraception law: The Church of England Newspaper, May 9, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Philippines.
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The Supreme Court of the Philippines has struck down portions of the country’s new contraception law, reaffirming the ban on abortion, and introducing safeguards to protect the rights of parents and of health workers. The Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008 was passed by Congress in 2012 over the vociferous opposition of the Roman Catholic Church, which objected to government sponsored birth control programs and sex education programs. However, the Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP) gave its support to the law. On 1 April 2011 the Prime Bishop of the ECP, the Most Rev. Edward Malecdan stated the 1958 Lambeth Conference affirmed the morality of contraception and stated that family planning was among the prudential choices given by God to man. The bill was pro-life, pro-women, pro-child, he argued, stating the state should “uphold and promote responsible parenthood. In its 25 April 2014 decision the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the law that defined the beginning of human life as the moment an embryo implants in the uterus—rather than the moment the ovum is fertilized. The Court also annulled rules requiring Catholic hospitals and health workers to endorse contraceptives with their patients and gave minors access to sexual and reproductive health services without parental consent.

Typhoon Haiyan rocks the Philippines: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2013 November 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Disaster Relief, Episcopal Church of the Philippines.
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Church aid agencies have issue a call for help following the landfall of Typhoon Haiyan in the Central Philippines.

At least 10,000 people are feared dead around the city of Tacloban, 375 miles south-east of Manila and the death toll is expected to mount sharply after communications are restored to the south-eastern province of Leyte.

The head of the Philippines Red Cross described the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, renamed Yolanda in the Philippines, as “absolute pandemonium” while Philippine Consul General in London said “the world has never seen a storm like this before”.   The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council stated that approximately 4.28 million people have been affected by the storm, while UNICEF reports 405,000 children are in immediate need of food and shelter.

Oenone Chadburn, Tearfund’s Head of Disaster Management, reported: ‘We’ve been in emergency communication with our partners and their networks of churches, across the Philippines, all weekend.

“Together we’re initiating emergency food distributions and our church networks are planning emergency shelter-and-blanket distributions, as well as child-focused protection work. What we need now is the money to run these,” she said.

On 11 November 2013 the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said his “heart goes out to the people there. We are all deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the loss of thousands of lives and of the suffering of millions as a result of Typhoon Haiyan.”

“Our prayers are with all who have lost loved ones and all those who are traumatised by the disaster and in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical attention. We pray for those who are most vulnerable in this crisis: children separated from their parents, the sick and injured, the disabled and the elderly.”

“As a Church, we will stand beside the people of the Philippines at this devastating time, offering all we can in practical and spiritual support as the scale of the disaster unfolds,” the archbishop said.

“May the victims of this terrible storm know God’s comfort and derive strength from their faith.”

Philippine ‘no’ to the Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 5, 2011 p 4. August 4, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Philippines.
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Prime Bishop Edward Malecdan of the Philippines (ACNS photo)

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines have rejected the proposed Anglican Covenant, saying the proposal to centralise authority in London was an “un-Anglican” attempt to “lord it over” the Communion’s national provinces.

Speaking to the 8th Philippine General Synod on 2 May, the Church’s Prime Bishop, the Most Rev Edward Malecdan, argued the best way forward through the crisis of faith and order dividing Anglicans was to keep talking while taking no action that would cause irreparable harm to the fabric of the Communion.

“I think most of us know that there are problems besetting the Communion,” he observed, noting that “one of this is the practice of The Episcopal Church USA, or TEC, in consecrating practicing homosexuals and lesbians to the episcopate. The other is the acceptance of same-sex marriages in both TEC and in the Anglican Church of Canada or ACoC.”

The responses to these breaches of Communion by the US and Canada had led some provinces to call for the isolation of “these two North American Churches. They express in no uncertain terms that the Church in Canada and TEC should be out of the Communion.”

These Churches that have sought to punish TEC and Canada have looked to the “Instruments of Communion,” specifically the Primates’ Meeting “to make that decision, presumably for the whole Communion,” he said.

Bishop Malecdan added there was also a plan to “create a parallel Anglican Communion which would exclude in its membership TEC, ACoC and the Archbishop of Canterbury as an instrument of Communion, such that those who planned this boycotted the Lambeth Conference in 2009 and the Primates’ Meeting I attended in Dublin.

“Associated with this problem is the Anglican Covenant which is supposedly a proposed document to help defuse the tension in the Communion. The document is intended to be the final arbiter in the resolution of conflicts in the Communion and that all member Churches will have to adhere to its provisions.”

Bishop Malecdan stated the Philippine Council of Bishops “noted that the document provides for the creation of a Standing Committee that will be the ‘Supreme Court’ as it were, for the Anglican Communion to lord it over all Anglican Provinces. This, to the Council is very un-Anglican because of the autonomous nature of each Anglican Province. Hence, we are not in favour of the document.”

The Bishop said his impression of the Dublin Primates’ Meeting was one of a Church where “unity and diversity” was “clearly and strongly affirmed.”

“We recognised that Anglicans have many disagreements as a Communion but we still can be agreeable to one another. We can still move towards reconciliation as sisters and brothers as a gift of God to us by persistently talking about our differences. This is the beauty of Anglicanism.

“Unity in diversity which is a recognized uniqueness of the Communion is preserved,” the prime bishop said.

Anglicans back birth control bill in the Philippines: The Church of England Newspaper, June 10, 2011 p 6. June 13, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Philippines.
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Prime Bishop Edward Malecdan of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ACNS photo)

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP) has given its support to the government’s Reproductive Health Bill, arguing that the use of contraceptives for birth control does not violate Christian moral teachings.

Government funding for birth control has led to a political showdown between the country’s powerful Roman Catholic Church and the government of President Benigno Aquino.  On Jan 30 the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines released a pastoral letter condemning House Bill No. 5043, the Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008 pending before Congress.

“Far from being simply a Catholic issue, the RH bill is a major attack on authentic human values and on Filipino cultural values regarding human life that all of us have cherished since time immemorial,” the bishops said.

“Placing artificial obstacles to prevent human life from being formed and being born most certainly contradicts this fundamental truth of human life,” they argued.  The government’s claim that the RH bill would protect life was false, the bishops argued, as it failed to protect the health “of the sacred human life that is being formed or born.”

However, in a pastoral letter dated April 1, the Prime Bishop of the ECP, the Most Rev. Edward Malecdan noted the 1958 Lambeth Conference affirmed the morality of contraception and stated that family planning was among the prudential choices given by God to man.

“Humanity was made in the image of God,” the prime bishop noted, and “we were made stewards of God’s creation and given wisdom and discernment which we exercise in determining how best all of creation and human society shall be ruled.”

The RH bill was not solely about government funding of birth control, Bishop Malecdan said.  It also speaks to the “State’s commitment to ‘uphold and promote responsible parenthood’ and the ‘right of the people’, particularly women” to participate in the formulation of government health policies.

“It is in this spirit that we support the need for a Reproductive Health Bill,” Bishop Malecdan said.

On June 4, the synod of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon gave its support to the bill.  Bishop Renato Abibico told the diocese “we need the bill so there will be an oversight on maternal health issues,” noting the RH bill was “pro-life and pro-women and -children, not anti-life as propagated by those against it. “

The  synod resolution declared the Episcopal Church “recognizes the need for family planning and responsible parenthood as a stewardship to uphold the sanctity of life” and resolved to educate its members on issues pertaining to dignity of life.

Anger as church is demolished illegally: CEN 1.15.10 p 6. January 21, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Philippines, Property Litigation.
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St Peter's, Sabangan before its demolition

The expropriation and demolition of an Episcopal church to build a municipal leisure center was an abuse of government power and a theft of church property, the Supreme Court of the Philippines has held.

On Dec 15, the Supreme Court overturned a Court of Appeals ruling upholding the 2006 seizure of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Sabangan by employees of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The case has been closely watched in the Philippines by civil society leaders, who saw the case as a particularly egregious example of political corruption and abuse of government power.

In 2006 a representative of local congressman Rep. Victor Dominguez approached the priest in charge of the Anglican parish seeking to buy the land in order to build a leisure center for the town with public funds in advance of local elections. The church declined to sell, but some weeks later engineers from the DPWH arrived at the church and began to tear it down, saying the church was squatting on public land.

A local court issued an injunction against the DPWH pending a hearing on the ownership of the land, but the DPWH ignored the court order and demolished the church and built the leisure center with government funds, touting it as the congressman’s gift to the community.

Originally a parish of the Philippine Independent Church (IFI)—in 1958 St Peter’s was turned over to the Episcopal Diocese of the Northern Philippines and was the church home of 50 families in the small mountain town.

The DPWH argued that a former IFI vicar had deeded the land to the town and the church also had ceased to occupy the land during the 1960s, but the Presiding Bishop of the IFI testified that the land had been in continuous use by the IFI and Episcopal Church. The bishop of the neighboring diocese of Northern Luzon, the Rt. Rev. Renato Abibico, reported that he was reared in Sabangan and attended St Peter’s as a child.

The Chancellor of the Philippine Episcopal Church, Floyd Lalwet told the Supreme Court the municipal court in 2006 had ordered the DPWH to “refrain from disturbing” the parish’s “peaceful possession” of the property, but the DPWH came “like a thief in the night.”

Demolition workers arrived “in the darkness of night and in the midst of a strong typhoon” and continued their work in “broad daylight on several occasions until the church building was completely demolished off the ground,” he said.

In the court documents, Lalwet said Rev. Gregorio Nacatab, Jr., the vicar of St. Peter’s, was told in 2007 “not to conduct worship services anymore” and to leave the “subject premises” by Congressman Dominguez.

The court held the diocese was “entitled to a judgment in its favor in the forcible entry case because of uncontested evidence that [the DPWH] entered the land by strategy and stealth or force” and found the government had acted unlawfully in taking the church land.

Anger as 57 are massacred in the Philippines: CEN 1.15.10 p 6. January 19, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Philippines, Politics.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Episcopal Church of the Philippines has called for swift government action in prosecuting those responsible for the election-related massacre of 57 people in the Philippine province of Maguindanao on the southern island of Mindanao.

Church demands action after massacre

The murder of 57 people by gunmen was “totally unacceptable, unlawful, unjust, and inhuman,” the Bishop of the Diocese of the Southern Philippines said.

On Nov 23 a convoy of six vehicles left the town of Buluan proceeding to the provincial capital of Shariff Aguak. The vice-mayor of Buluan, Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu had invited 37 journalists to accompany his family and campaign workers to cover his filing of papers in the provincial capital to stand for election as governor.

Andal Ampatuan Jr, son of the outgoing governor, Andal Ampatuan Sr., and a candidate for election to his father’s post, allegedly threatened Mangudadatu — the scion of a rival political clan — with death if he contested the governor’s position. The presence of the journalists and his family, Mangudadatu believed, would prevent attempts at blocking the filing of candidacy papers.

On the road to the capital near the village of Ampatuan, 100 gunmen stopped the convoy along with two other cars on the road, killing all those they found. The women traveling in the convoy, including Mangudadatu’s wife, aunt and two sisters, and the female reporters were raped and tortured before they were killed.

Before she died, Mangudadatu’s wife sent him a text message, reporting the attack. She texted that Andal Ampatuan Jr was leading the attack and had struck her, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. Mangudadatu later identified his wife’s body, telling the Inquirer the killers had “speared both of her eyes, shot both her breasts, cut off her feet, fired into her mouth.”

On Nov 24, Philippine president Gloria Arroyo declared a state of emergency in Maguindanao, relieving local military and police commanders in the province, and ordered the army to disarm gunmen under the control of Ampatuan clan.

Andal Ampatuan Jr surrendered three days later to President Arroyo’s chief adviser in the region and the Department of Justice has created a panel of special prosecutors to handle cases arising from the massacre.

The Ampatuan clan has controlled Maguindanao since 1986 when Andal Ampatuan Sr was appointed by President Corazon Aquino to govern Shariff Aguak following the ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos. In 1998 Ampatuan Sr moved from mayor of the provincial capital to state governor, with his son groomed to take over his father’s political fiefdom in the Muslim majority province.

A political ally of President Arroyo, the Ampatuan clan has traditionally delivered crucial swing votes to candidates in the ruling administration coalition.

The Maguindanao Massacre was a consequence of the Arroyo administration’s “well-known deliberate cultivation and patronage of the Ampatuan political warlord clan and dynasty as its main instrument for political control in Maguindanao province,” the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research’s Soliman Santos said.

The main base of operations for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Maguindanao province’s political bosses, the Ampatuan clan had been permitted by the government to amass political power and wealth in return for providing support for the central government in its war against Muslim separatists, Santos said.

In a statement released last month, the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of the Southern Philippines, the Rt Rev Danilo Bustamante, lamented that the Philippines had become a nation where “the fruit of moral decadence has gone far and deep; where abusive authority reigns supreme with powers over life and death, the damage is unfathomable and truly reflective of the culture and dynamics that is prevailing in the region.”

Bishop Bustamante urged President Arroyo to “lay aside political exigencies and alliances and bring all the perpetrators of this heinous crime before the bar of justice.”

“With swift justice delivered,” the bishop said, “the door to peace in Mindanao can be pursued with even greater vigour and relentlessness.”

Philippino bishops denounce presidential power-grab: CEN 8.12.09 August 12, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Philippines, Politics.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines has denounced a government-backed bill to amend the nation’s constitution, saying the proposed charter change, “cha-cha”, is a ploy to keep President Gloria Arroyo in power.

On July 30 the bishops added their voice to the chorus of religious and civil society leaders, including the late President Corazon Aquino, in denouncing HR No 1109. The bill, which has passed the Philippine House of Representatives and is presently before the Senate, seeks to amend the Constitution through the convening of a constituent assembly “con-ass”.

Supporters — including business and government elites and the army — claim cha-cha would strengthen the rule of law and provide accountability within the state by moving from a presidential system to a parliamentary system form of government. It would provide an economic boost to the lagging economy by restoring investor confidence in the regime.

However, opponents of the cha-cha say there is no connection between constitutional reform and economic growth, charging that cha-cha is an attempt to keep the present ruling elites in power after President Gloria Arroyo’s term ends in 2010.

The bill calls for the House and Senate to meet as one body in the con-ass to draft a new constitution. However, critics charge that as Arroyo’s supporters control the more numerous lower house, their votes would nullify the restraining hand of the senate, if they met as a single body.

“The congressmen’s unreasonable insistence to pursue Charter change despite strong public opposition validates our fears that the President will use them in the Constituent Assembly to perpetuate herself in power,” the bishops said. Religious groups have been among the key opponents of cha-cha. In 2006 the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued a statement questioning the benefits of cha-cha, saying constitutional reform could be hijacked by special interest groups. The Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines added that cha-cha was a smoke screen to cover up the “sins” of President Arroyo.

While the Catholic bishops have so far remained silent on HR 1109, the Association of Major Religious Superiors along with the country’s Protestant leaders have denounced the bill. On June 10, former President Aquino sent a message to an anti-cha-cha rally in Makati stating “Here we are again in the midst of the shameful abuses of the powerful that seek to destroy our sacred laws.

“Over the years, I have learned to endure pain and sadness,” President Aquino wrote. “But perhaps, there is nothing that causes me greater pain than to see our people betrayed again and again by those they have elected to lead and serve them. To those of us who fought long and hard to restore our democracy, the pain deepens at the thought that all our gains have so quickly been eroded.”

President Aquino’s death on July 31 prompted President Arroyo to ask her allies in Congress, led by her son, Rep Mikey Arroyo to pull the bill. However, no final decision has yet been made on a Senate vote.

Blair to bring peace to the Philippines: CEN 3.26.09 March 26, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Philippines.
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Tony Blair has been tapped by the government of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to broker a peace deal between the Manila government and Muslim rebels. On March 24 Mr. Blair met with President Arroyo at the Malacañang Palace in Manila with Mrs. Arroyo to discuss ways of ending the 30 year old Muslim secessionist campaign on the southern island of Mindanao. 

A government spokesman told reporters Mr. Blair’s experience in Northern Ireland, as well as his current work as envoy to the Middle East on behalf of the “Quartet”: the US, UN, EU and Russia, made him an ideal choice.  

“The president is confident Tony Blair, with all his experience, can contribute a lot to resolving our peace and order problems in Mindanao,” deputy presidential spokeswoman Lorelei Fajardo told reporters.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Blair to bring peace to Philippines

The Bishop of the Southern Philippines July 17, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Episcopal Church of the Philippines, Lambeth 2008.
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The Rev Dan Bustamante on the opening day of the Lambeth Conference.

US Military Policy Attacked: CEN 2.08.08 p 7. February 9, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Philippines, Nippon Sei Ko Kai.
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gloria-arroyo.jpgChurch leaders from the Philippines and Japan have issued a joint statement denouncing US military policies in East Asia, and condemned plans for a free trade agreement between the two countries.

“We stand against the forces of war and militarism: we lament the sustained US military war exercises in Mindanao and their presence in the rest of the Philippines, and the expansion of its bases in Okinawa,” delegates from the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ) said at the close of their joint Jan 21-25 meeting in Davao City.

Church leaders from the two countries noted that though the social and economic realities of their societies were very different, both nations were linked “are inextricably linked to the designs of the Empire especially its use of militarism as a tool for control and dominance.”

“We do not want our countries as launching pads for the US wars of aggression against the peoples of the world for its sole economic and political interests,” they said.

The church groups called the proposed Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, a free trade pact, “one sided, unequal and deceptive pact.” It would be “hugely beneficial” for Japan “but will surely aggravate the Filipino people’s misery.”

The conference also denounced “the continued political killings and other human rights violations in the Philippines whose targets are known critics of the policies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.” (pictured)

In his conference address, the Rev. Rex Reyes, Jr., General Secretary of the NCCP accused the government of President Arroyo of having betrayed the people. The Anglican priest said the Arroyo presidency had led to “the repression and the militarization of the countryside.”

“The government’s counter-insurgency campaign, under the guise of war against terror,” had been implemented to enrich the government and its cronies through “the implementation of the economic policies of liberalization and privatization.”

The “repressive policies of the government” which had banned strikes and placed the country in a “state of emergency” were “meant to stifle principled dissent.”

“Peace and justice” remained an “enduring concern” for the Episcopal Church in the Philippines and the NCCP he said. The churches sought not to replace one regime with another, but to foster a “theology and spirituality that affirms the sanctity of life and the gifts of grace and providence bestowed on us by the Creator,” he said, and lead to the transformation of Filipino society.

Bishop Ignacio Soliba of the Philippines December 1, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Episcopal Church of the Philippines, Primates Meeting 2007.
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The Presiding Bishop of the Philippines, the Most Rev. Ignacio Soliba.  Photo taken Feb 18, 2007 in Zanzibar.

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.
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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.