A committee from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has decided to leave the government’s anti-communist task force in order to maintain its autonomy.
The executive secretary of the CBCP Public Affairs Commission, Priest Jerome Secillano, stated that the panel will continue to maintain its commitments with the task force but will choose to safeguard its independence.
He mentioned to ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo that if we are the only one speaking up in the organization and making these assertions and recommendations, our contributions may lose their impact, emphasizing the significance of an external perspective.
“Despite not having membership, we still communicate with them in order to express our concerns. This is especially important when individuals associated with the church are supposedly being targeted. We are thankful that our concerns are acknowledged and addressed by them.”
In August of last year, when it was announced that the CBCP would be a part of the task force, church leaders voiced their disapproval of the decision. They condemned the government agency’s past actions of labeling numerous individuals, including church members and human rights activists, as enemies.
However, on September 1, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, who leads the CBCP, stated that it was the panel, rather than the order of bishops, that participated in the task force as a representative of the private sector.
Mr. David, 64, has been vocal against the rights abuses being committed by Philippine security forces, especially under former president Rodrigo R. Duterte, who created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza