[Statement] Do not deprive the Rural Poor of Services they deserve -RMP
“8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed”
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), express our utmost dismay with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for freezing our accounts with the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). This latest attack against RMP greatly encumbers our mission to collectively witness and act as Christ’s disciples with the rural poor, for them to enjoy the fruits of their labor, to live a life of justice and peace towards fulness of life promised to all God’s children.
On December 26, 2019, the AMLC issued Resolution TF-18 which ordered a 20-day freeze for three (3) RMP accounts with the BPI. It then ordered BPI to submit details of RMP-related bank accounts. It also authorized the AMLC to file, thru the Office of the Solicitor General, a petition to extend the freeze order to six (6) months with the Court of Appeals. This was based on the very vague reasoning that there is “probable cause that the BPI accounts of RMP are related to terrorism financing”.
On the same day, a letter was sent by AMLC to the BPI Main Office containing said orders. On January 9 and 13 this year, RMP was notified by several BPI branches that its accounts have been suspended: two (2) for the National Office and nine (9) for the Northern Mindanao Sub-Region. These accounts were created and maintained for completed and on-going projects of RMP, as well as for its internal operations.
We vehemently deny involvement in any form of financing terrorism. Donations and funding received by the RMP are used to implement projects and programs to help the marginalized and oppressed. In contrast to the government’s false narrative, RMP has delivered much-needed services to rural communities across the country for 50 years. We have our mission and community partners to confirm this. In freezing our bank accounts, the AMLC is only depriving the rural poor of the help and services they deserve, and that the government refuses to provide.
RMP has been increasingly attacked by those who seek to discredit its reputation built by countless nuns, priests and lay workers. Our organization has been vilified and maligned — thru cowardly and baseless anonymous black propaganda materials, and thru equally cowardly and baseless official pronouncements of the government. We’ve been accused of being a communist and terrorist front. Our members have been harassed and threatened, forcing some of them to seek sanctuary elsewhere.
RMP members are also facing trumped up charges filed by the military. Among them are three senior citizens: former National Coordinator Sr. Elenita Belardo, RGS (80 years old: perjury); Northern Mindanao Sub-Region Coordinator Sr. Emma Teresita Cupin, MSM (63: arson, kidnapping, robbery); and lay worker Angie Ipong (74: frustrated murder).
Indigenous schools established or run by RMP in Mindanao have been forcibly closed. Two of its voluntary teachers — Melissa Comiso and Nori Torregosa — are in still jail for trumped up charges.
These attacks against us unmask the truth this government declares. The reality today is, helping the poor, as Christians living out concretely your faith imperative and following the church mandate to establish the Church of the Poor, will put your liberty and life at risk.
But now more than ever, the RMP will live out its commitment to be servant-leaders with the poor farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers, and Indigenous Peoples so that all may truly experience God’s compassion and mercy in the here and now.
We enjoin all those who believe in doing Christ’s mission of love that is real and active to stand with us and rise up to continue journeying with the rural poor towards the attainment of life, justice and peace.
We call on the AMLC to immediately unfreeze RMP’s bank accounts. Instead of harassing RMP and other advocates of the poor, we encourage the AMLC to go after those who are truly involved in laundering of money accumulated thru corruption and other crimes against the poor.
Unfreeze RMP’s bank accounts!
Stop the attacks against Church People!
Hands Off the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines!
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