RELIGIOUS leaders from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) on Thursday held a prayer vigil in front of the Quezon City Hall of Justice to express their prayers for justice during the mediation of their civil suit lodged against former president and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga province.
“The families of UCCP pastors and leaders who have been extra-judicially killed pray for justice for our loved ones,” said Jophet Domingo, son of Rev. Raul Domingo who was brutally killed in Puerto Princessa, Palawan province in 2005.
“It gives us strength to have the Church stand with us in our pursuit of justice. To be fin-ancially indemnified through this civil suit carries with it a message: what was done to our loved ones is an offense to society, an offense to humanity,” Jophet Domingo added.
“The UCCP General Assembly mandated this legal action in support of the victims of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, abduction and torture, and other serious human rights violations. We stand for the victims and we stand with their families who have also suffered greatly due to abhorrent, state-perpetrated human rights violations,” said Bishop Art Asi, South Luzon Jurisdictional Area.
Bishop Asi said Arroyo’s legal team tried to have the civil suit dismissed and even appealed the decision of the Judge Tita Marilyn Payoyo-Villordon of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court-Branch 224, at the Court of Appeals when she denied them.
“We are extremely thankful that the opposition’s motions filed at the Court of Appeals have been decided in our favor. The last decision from the Court of Appeals denied GMA’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the trial proceeding in the Regional Trial Court. Thus, here we stand, pressing for justice through the Philippine courts. Our faith compels us to demand accountability,” he said.
“As we go through the court-mandated process of mediation, we are not hopeful that former President Arroyo intends to settle the case with us,” Bishop Asi, in reference to today’s hearing.
The case lifts up 18 UCCP pastors and lay leaders who have been killed, 1 disappeared and believed killed, 3 persons ambushed and wounded, and at least 4 people abducted, illegally detained and tortured.
“UCCP martyrs deserve to be remembered for the service that they rendered to the Filipino people. My father Rev. Raul Domingo served as a pastor in financially poor areas. He also was a human rights defender. My father was a great man and we miss him dearly. He deserves justice, but we also want to do our part to stop this from happening to someone else’s father, husband, or child,” Domingo said.
“Extra judicial killings and human rights violations continue in the Philippines—the killings, abductions, and harassment have not ended. Even if the wheels of justice turn slowly, we will persist in our call for accounta-bility. The courts must dare to hold perpe-trators of human rights violations accountable and stop their heinous crimes. We stand firm for an end the climate of impunity,” Bishop Asi further said.