Call on the Canadian government to ensure that funding to the Government of the Philippines does not harm human rights defenders.

Church leaders in the Philippines holding signs
Church leaders in the Philippines pray for Supreme Court justices to exercise sound judgment in striking down the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Credit: Jonathan Sta. Rosa (National Council of Churches in the Philippines)

The United Church of Canada joins with other denominations and civil society organizations to express deep concern that the Canadian government is inadvertently enabling continued attacks on human rights and human rights defenders by providing financial, programmatic, and technical support to the Government of the Philippines. Canada risks being complicit in extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and irregular searches, arrests and detention, vilification and harassment campaigns, and other severe human rights violations associated with the counter-insurgency campaign.

What’s Happening in the Philippines

In July 2020, the Government of the Philippines approved the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows attacks on the basic rights of its critics in the name of fighting “terrorism.” The Act’s definition of terrorism remains vague enough that it blurs the distinction between legitimate criticism of the government and criminality.

The counter-terrorism campaign of the Philippine government has been misused to stifle dissent, suppress human rights defenders, and restrict democracy. Unfortunately, this has led to extrajudicial killings, false accusations, arbitrary arrests, and detention, as well as other grave violations of human rights against those who oppose the government. Many of these individuals are wrongly accused of terrorism.

More information can be found in this briefing from the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP): Why Canada Must Stop Funding the Philippine Counter-Terrorism Campaign. ICHRP is a global network of organizations concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines. The United Church of Canada is a board member of the active Canadian chapter.

*Since July 2016 Mission and Service partner Karapatan has documented 469 cases of politically motivated extrajudicial—beyond the action or authority of a court—killings.

Take Action

Call on Foreign Affairs Minister The Honourable Mélanie Joly, MP, and your local MP requesting that the Government of Canada

  • disclose information on the monitoring process for projects aimed at building the capacity of the military, police, and other security agencies in the Philippines to fight terrorism.
  • withdraw support from the Philippine government’s counter-terrorism campaign.
  • call on the Government of the Philippines to repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Living Out Our Call

We believe The United Church of Canada is called to witness in love and justice to the liberating, healing Christ risen in this place and time.

—The United Church of Canada Strategic Plan

The United Church of Canada is called into public witness of its call to Bold Discipleship, Daring Justice, and Deep Spirituality. The church maintains longstanding relationships with partners in the Philippines who are advocating for protection of human rights, civil society space, and democracy. Mission and Service partners such as the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and Karapatan, focus on human rights advocacy, ecumenical engagement, and protection of Indigenous rights and ancestral lands. Mutual engagement with global partners reflects the church’s commitment to join with others in the common task of caring for one another and the whole of God’s creation to see a world transformed by love.


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