Protesters ask for the release of Dr. Alexis Montes and 42 other medical caregivers. A UMNS Photo by Juliet Solis-Aguilar courtesy of Global Ministries.
THE PHILIPPINES – The top official of the Philippines Department of Justice promises to have charges against the 43 health workers withdrawn by December 10 (United Nations International Human Rights Day) “and if not by then, at least before Christmas.”
Last spring UM bishops joined the Connectional Table in expressing outrage at the arrests of the health care workers along with a pattern of human rights abuses in the Philippines that include kidnappings and extrajudicial killings.
Bishops John Schol, Daniel Arichea and Rodolfo Juan traveled to Washington to lobby for action on human rights abuses in the Philippines.
During a Dec. 1 visit by representatives of the World Council of Churches, Sec.
Leila de Lima of the Philippines Department of Justice assured the team that charges will be withdrawn.
The 43 health care workers are currently on hunger strike as they question the legality of their arrest and continued detention.
The World Council delegation also said that they have hope that the president will keep electoral promises to put an end to extrajudicial killings, disappearances and abductions, and implement genuine land reform.
Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men was present during the spring meeting of the Connectional Table where family members described how their loved ones had been abducted without charges.
“It was hard to believe that this is happening in this country where we had shared powerful worship in Methodist Churches, a country we count as an ally, in a country that seems so open, but clearly is not,” said Hanke. “How easy it is for me to be a Christian in the US, and how risky it is for all Christians in the Philippines.”