Following engagements at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva as part the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights, Justice and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice Philippines), Fr. Jonash Joyohoy and Fr. Wilfredo Ruazol of the Ramento Project for Rights Defenders (RPRD) met with leaders of the Old Catholic Churches in The Netherlands.
Rev. Dr. Peter Ben Smith, a priest in the Diocese of Harlem and a prominent theologian and scholar of the the Old Catholic Church, hosted RPRD’s visit.
Recent years have seen an intensified political and judicial attacks to a significant number of human rights defenders in the Philippines. RPRD’s advocacy visit aims to raise before sister Churches of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) the human rights abuses committed by the Philippine government and the military against civilians and civil society groups, the people’s organizations and church people, including members of the IFI.
Meeting with Utrecht Archbishop Joris Vercammen and Haarlem Bishop Dick Schoon, Fr. Joyohoy expressed his alarm over the entirely unacceptable situation of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in connection to the government’s “war on drugs” and anti-insurgency campaigns.
“Despite the intetnational and local human rights communities’ calls for the government to stop extrajudicial killings, we are not aware of any significant steps being undertaken to address this massive violation of human right to life,” Joyohoy said.
Fr. Joyohoy shared to Archbishop Vercammen how 7 lay members of his Church were killed in the most recent wave of extrajudicial attacks against church people.
Fr. Joyohoy believes the Old Catholic Churches’ support to advocacy actions in ending the violence of repression in the Philippines is necessary in the promotion pf human rights and in bringing the government to accountability for its human rights abuses.
“We covet the solidarity of the Old Catholic Churches in the continuous efforts of engaging the ecumenical community in Western Europe through our advocacy visits and campaigns regarding the Philippine human rights situation,” further said Fr. Joyohoy.
The Old Catholic Church is instrumental in the formation of the RPRD when the rights program was established in 2008. Rev. Dr. Franz Segbers, a priest of the Old Catholic Church in Germany, assisted RPRD in establishing partnership with Bread for the World.