The Council of Bishops of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) announced that it will pursue legal actions against expelled pastors for endangering the lives of church workers “with sustained red-tagging.”
“The defamatory accusations and false witness against fellow members of the Church are grave misconduct and put persons in harm’s way,” read a pastoral admonition issued by the council on Wednesday, September 21.
The Protestant bishops said “red-tagging” and false accusations “lead to a serious threat to life,” which “cannot be condoned.”
They said the UCCP’s general assembly has already adopted a resolution to pursue legal cases against those who vilify the Church.
The bishops made the statement after video interviews accusing UCCP bishops and pastors as members of the communist-led New People’s Army spread on social media.
In the video, officials of the government’s anti-communist agency interviewed individuals who identified themselves as members of the UCCP.
The interviewees claimed that UCCP bishops, pastors, and other church workers in the central Philippine province of Leyte are members of the communist armed group.
One of the interviewees said that a bishop in southern Leyte province has been “aiding” the rebels by storing firearms inside the church.
The UCCP Council of Bishops denied the allegations, saying the accusations “are false and unfounded” and a form of “black propaganda” against the Church.
The prelates said that the people interviewed were “disgruntled members and church workers” who were discontented about the property development program of the UCCP.
The bishops said these expelled church workers colluded with the government’s anti-communist agency “to give false testimonies implicating all UCCP bishops as members of the [Communist Party of the Philippines].”
“All these allegations are verbalized in retaliation to the case of willful insubordination,” said the bishops, adding that the individuals were expelled from the UCCP “for conduct unbecoming as church workers.”
“Their expulsion is after proper investigation and due process. The same expulsion is accepted by the congregations where these Pastors are assigned,” the bishops said.