Gov’t task force says EU cut funding to missionary group

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 July) – The European Union has halted its financial aid to the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) after the government asked EU to stop supporting the group that it accused of being allied with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), according to Allan Capuyan, executive director of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Capuyan announced this during the “Tatak ng Pagbabago 2019: The Pre-SONA Forum” at the SMX Convention Center Davao on Wednesday or four months after the EU commissioned an external audit to verify government allegations the RMP was supporting the communist movement.

“Nagkaroon ng kasagutan. Ang Europe Union sumulat at hininto na nila ang pagbigay ng suporta sa Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (There was an answer. The European Union wrote to us that it had stopped giving support to the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines),” he said.

The 28-member EU, in a press statement dated March 30, 2019, said it told Philippine key Cabinet officials during a “Press Freedom and Truth Caravan” in Belgium in February that CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, had been listed as terrorist groups since 2005 and, as such, “no assets can be held in EU by these organizations.”

It would also take full legal action if the allegations would be established, the EU said.

In a statement last July 4, Sr. Elenita Belardo, RMP National Coordinator, denied the “red-tagging” accusation of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. who alleged that the people behind the organization are communists and are facilitating the Lumad schools where the students are being taught communism.

“They’ve been spreading these lies. They’ve been red-tagging, harassing and threatening us. These are the reasons why we filed the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data in the first place,” she said.

Belardo said the perjury case filed by Esperon against RMP and its co-petitioners was intended to silence the vocal critics of the “anti-people policies and programs of this government”.

This perjury case against us and our co-petitioners aims to turn people’s attention away from the real issue. This is about the violations of state forces against our members and we want protection from whatever harm they may inflict on us,” she said.

She maintained that the RMP, an organization registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, had been submitting General Information Sheet and Audited Financial Statements to the SEC contrary to Esperon’s claim.

The RMP, founded on August 15, 1969, is “a national organization, inter-congregational and inter-diocesan in character, of women and men religious, priests and lay,” living and working with peasants such as farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, and agricultural workers. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)

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