As many of you know I have been deeply connected to Filipino American history and politics for a long time.  This has naturally flowed into my deep interest for many years in Philippine politics as it relates to Filipino American life.  I have been even more connected as of late because of some blossoming friendships with church workers in the area, so I am proud to share with you a letter that was written by the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Grady Parsons, to the President of the Philippines regarding the "Marong 43" and Ms. Judilyn Oliveras. This letter was written with the support and encouragement of our ecclesiastical partner in the Philippines, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, and is consistent with our denomination's continued call for justice and compassion in our own country and in the world.

There will obviously be great disagreement about whether we, as a denomination should be taking such stands as part of our larger expression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and even whether such statements do any good, but I for one believe these kinds of letters and statements stand firmly within the best of our tradition as a church.  Thank you Gradye for this!

Below is the complete letter as well as ways you too can raise your voice in support of the Marong 43 and Ms. Oliveras.  You can also stay connected to some amazing peacemaking work of our church through the "Swords into Plowshares" blog.

Bruce Reyes-Chow Line

22 July 2010

H.E. Benigno S.C. Aquino III
Office of the President
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila

Dear President Aquino,

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been engaged in ministry with the people of the Philippines for over one hundred years. While our concern extends to all of the people of the country, we have a particularly close relationship to our sisters and brothers in Christ in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

On behalf of more than two million Presbyterians, I join our Filipino sisters and brothers in an appeal for the release of Ms. Judilyn Oliveros on humanitarian grounds. Our partners have informed us that Judilyn was a victim of illegal arrest on February 6, 2010 as one of 43 health workers who were detained by the Armed Forces in the Philippines in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. They are now detained in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig while they await the decision of the Supreme Court on the Habeas Corpus case that was filed shortly after their disappearance.

Judilyn was pregnant when arrested and recently gave birth. I appeal to you to release her immediately so that she can properly care for herself and her baby. She gave birth by Cesarean section in a hospital and under guard. The presence of the guards creates a less than ideal situation for Judilyn and her baby. In addition, she needs to bond with her son and to heal from the birthing; the Bagong Diwa jail is not an appropriate place nor does it have appropriate conditions for this to occur. I urge you to make a priority of the release of Judilyn Oliveros.

Our partners have heard the details of the case filed against Judilyn and the other so-called ‘Morong 43’ members and are convinced that the charges are trumped up and that the Morong 43 are indeed political prisoners. With our partners, I appeal for the release of each and every member of the group. Ms. Mercedes (Mercy) Castro is also pregnant and should be released. Ms. Jane Balleta suffers epileptic attacks due to the conditions in the jail. However, I cannot understate that Judilyn Oliveros faces an extreme situation and appeal that you will take steps to release her as soon as possible.

The Christian Women’s Association-United Metropolis Conference, United Church of Christ in the Philippines has decided that the care of Judilyn and Mercy will be a special ministry. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will provide prayer and financial support as they do. Judilyn, Mercy and the other members of the Morong 43 should be thanked for their willingness to serve as health workers, but instead they have been jailed. I pray that you will show mercy to these men and women who are suffering for their willingness to care for others. Judilyn Oliveros now urgently needs to care for her new son. I join those who appeal for her immediate release.

Sincerely yours,

Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

cc: Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr.
Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Atty. Leila De Lima
Acting Chairperson Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing

Bruce Reyes-Chow Line


You can join the effort by sending a respectful letter to H.E. Benigno S.C. Aquino III, President of the Philippines and other leaders in the Filipino government. 

Here are email addresses to use:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila, Philippines
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph OR opnet@ops.gov.ph

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Email: osec@opapp.gov.ph

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Acting Secretary, Department of National Defense
Email: osnd@philonline.com 

Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Email:  soj@doj.gov.ph 

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