Unification News For February 1996
Rebuttal of Philippine Accusation
by Dr. Tyler O. Hendricks-NYC
This is the text of an open letter from the president of HSA-UWC in America to the president of the Philippines countering the allegation that Philippino women are being Blessed so that they can be slaves to Korean men.
As President of the Unification Church of America, I greet Your Excellency as the leader of a country for which I have a great deal of affection. I spent a week in the Philippines in 1986 as a Director of the Religious Youth Service. The RYS brought young people representing many religions for a summer of interreligious education and social work. In the course of the orientation week we had two special audiences, one with President Aquino and the second with Cardinal Sin. Then the young people spent the summer doing service projects.
They built a bridge between Catholic and Muslim communities in Cavite, Dasmari, as. A second team dug sixteen wells in Aphalite, Pompanga, together with the Aphalite Christian Community. The third team built a university medical center on Iloilo, and planted 10,000 mahogany trees for financial support of the school on the nearby island of Guimenes (I hope the spelling is correct). Since then the RYS has carried on a follow-up project in Pompanga and three other projects, including one to foster religious harmony in Mindanao.
The RYS is an organization co-sponsored by the International Religious Foundation and the International Relief Friendship Foundation, both of which are United Nations NGO's, and both of which were established by Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
Before continuing I also express my solidarity with the legitimate concerns of the Philippine government over the treatment some Filipino women have received overseas. This horror arises in a global environment of abuse of women, of course, which is a problem my church is seriously committed to solve.
Now to the matter at hand. I am writing to express to you grave concern on the part of the Unification community in America for the safety and welfare of our Unification community in the Philippines. Because of the seriousness of this concern, I am addressing this to you as an open letter.
Certain representatives of the Filipino government have generated tremendous controversy over a Blessing ceremony hosted by the Unification community in Manila on January 24, 1996. Without consultation or warning, these officials made public statements about our Church which we believe have no foundation in fact. The Bureau of Immigration and Deportation and National Bureau of Investigation have taken official actions against our church pursuant to those statements which we believe to be unethical and perhaps illegal. These together have triggered a media attack upon the Unification Church in the Philippines and in America.
It is important to recall that the Blessing is a bona fide religious ceremony. Its organizers conducted themselves with dignity and integrity. The two sponsoring organizations were comprised of members of the Unification community and other distinguished members of Philippine society. Similar Blessings have taken place in scores of countries over the course of thirty-six years. There have never been allegations of impropriety as are occurring in the Philippines.
The recent Blessing in Manila was open to the public and to the media. The organizers were aware of the public interest that this event would attract as a statement for faithful marriage and family values. They were in fact eager to herald this event publicly, for it represents the increasingly acclaimed contribution of the Reverend and Mrs. Moon to the advancement of world peace.
Thus the statements and actions of the Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, Mr. Leandro Verceles, have defamed an event which is both religious and humanitarian. They insult the ceremony participants, all those who have participated in prior Blessing ceremonies, and those distinguished members of the Philippine government and society who extended their active support to the ideals which the Blessing represents.
The controversy originates from Mr. Verceles's public statement that some Filipino women who had gone to South Korea last year to work in the Unification Church ended up as maids and prostitutes. Without communicating this matter to the Unification Church in the Philippines or South Korea, Mr. Verceles summarily publicized this emotion-laden allegation, which to date has been neither substantiated nor corroborated. According to my information, in fact, the accusation boils down to the testimony of only one, unnamed Filipino woman about her own experience.
Continuing this agenda, and again without any communication with the Unification Church, Mr. Verceles assigned several government spies to infiltrate the Blessing ceremony as participants. As a result of this unethical violation of our church, neither these agents nor Mr. Verceles have produced any substantive proof to support the initial allegations. And yet statement such as the following flood the media:
Rodolfo Dumprias, minister counselor of the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, was reported in the press as having stated, "the Koreans who married the Filipino women only wanted `housemaids' and `sex partners' for whom they really paid $2,000." Your Executive Secretary, Mr. Ruben Torres, reportedly stated, "Considerable concern has been raised on the real motives of the organizers of (Tuesday's) mass wedding at the Philippine International Convention Center." The incoming director of the National Bureau of Investigation publicly stated, "the Unification Church will be subjected to surveillance of three teams of agents."
Your Excellency, this has incited an emotional media blitzkrieg against the Unification Church. This cannot but induce suspicion and hatred of the Unification community in the Philippines and beyond. When religious bigotry rears its ugly head, acts of violence and destruction of property often result. I cannot imagine that your respected government can be comfortable with this, nor that it intends to ignore internationally accepted standards of due process and human rights.
To summarize the central issues over which we in the United States are concerned:
1. The unsubstantiated allegation of a single, unnamed person in South Korea has been exploited to justify the desecration of a religious ceremony and the defamation of a religious community. The Unification Church has not been given any opportunity to respond to this allegation or otherwise to cooperate with Filipino authorities to ascertain its credibility despite a formal letter of request to the Philippine Ambassador in Seoul from the Korean Church President, Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak.
2. The Filipino government has unduly restricted its own citizens, namely the participants in the Blessing ceremony, from exercising their right to travel freely without due process of law.
3. The Filipino government has precluded the entry into the Philippines of foreign nationals in violation of due process on the basis of their participation in a religious ceremony.
4. The BID intentionally desecrated a religious ceremony and deceived its organizers by placing agents as participants for the purposes of conducting hidden surveillance. These agents conducted their activities to the extent of participating in a religious rite of marriage, only to abandon their betrothed spouses when the ceremony was over.
5. Agents of the BID arrived at the Church office in Manila and attempted to conduct a search under a fake search warrant. When the Unification Church representative attempted to photocopy their warrant, she was set upon by several agents and prevented from doing so. This apparently illegal search would have proceeded were it not for the intervention of a former police brigadier who happened on the scene.
Your Excellency, I encourage your sincere attention to the appeals of Unification Church leaders and other eminences in the Philippines and South Korea. At the very least, we would expect an impartial investigation of the origins, history and principals of this attack upon our church. Further, we would expect that illegal actions or other acts of malfeasance exposed will be publicized and sanctioned, and that proper recompense be made. As events such as this in the Philippines have global implications for minority religions, the Unificationist community and its friends in North America are monitoring the situation closely.
Unification Church members have served the people of the Philippines with an open heart and hand, and we will continue to do so. But please remember that persecution of one faith often leads to persecution of others. We await your decisive action to protect both a precious religious community and your own country's principles of religious freedom and civil rights.
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