We, the Christian Youth Fellowship, the youth organization of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, believe in the authority of the Divine Being, that God created every individual in His likeness and being (Genesis 1:26-27). And that being created in the Divine’s likeness and being, each individual is entitled to live a life of dignity, to realize their potentials, and enjoy life in its fullness.
We invoke our duties as members of the Christian Youth Fellowship stated in the CYF Constitution and By Laws Article 2, Sections 3 and 4. We sustain that the CYF “exists for the service of the youth, in particular, and of the people in general, for the glory of God”. And that the “CYF lives its life in the mission: bringing good news to the poor, giving light to the blind, freedom for the captive and oppressed, food for the hungry and proclaiming creation’s future (Luke 4:18-19, RSV).”
We have witnessed the structural violence inflicted by government instrumentalities and their collaboration with private actors in forwarding personal interests in expense of their duties and responsibilities as protectors of the rights and welfare of the Filipino People. We have witnessed first-hand how the interests of affluent groups and individuals have been privileged over the constitutional rights of the marginalized.
We have witnessed the usurpation of land among the inhabitants of Bacoor, Cavite, of Tartaria, Silang Cavite, of Sta. Rosa, Laguna, of Sitio Kabute, Calamba, Laguna, of Victoria Laguna, of Lemery Batangas, of Sitio Balakbakan, San Juan, Batangas, of Nasugbu, Batangas and of Calaca, Batangas. Citizens of these areas have been experiencing intimidation, harassment, and other human rights violations from certain groups, individuals and government agencies. They face the threat of demolition without just compensation and equitable alternatives. The inhabitants of the aforementioned areas also lack access to vital public services imperative to their health and overall well-being. We uphold that land distribution is a vital source of subsistence where citizens can meet their needs and further fulfill their aspirations. We strongly believe that the government should abide by its duty to distribute resources equitably and protect the vulnerable members of its citizenry.
We have heard the stories of exploitation from the workers of Canlubang, Laguna and Sampalok, Batangas. Their wages do not meet the living expenses needed to live everyday with dignity. They are cut off from other benefits that merit the work they rendered. We stand in solidarity with the workers in their call for just wages, job security, and humane working environment.
We have listened to the narratives of the Aetas in Puting Kahoy, Rosario, San Juan, Batangas. Their sense of identity and their traditional cultural practices are compromised for the need to integrate themselves to modern economic structures in able to survive.
We have seen the struggles of the Lumads brought by armed conflicts and systematic militarization. We call on for a peaceful resolution of conflicts where the rights, welfare, and future of civilians are not precluded and violated. We call on for the resumption of peace talks and that all parties involved should compromise in the name of just and lasting peace where first and foremost, the social, political, and economic rights of every Filipino citizen regardless of age, sex, ethnicity, and class are upheld.
We work together with the members of the LGBTQI and with people living with Sexually Transmitted Infections in creating a more compassionate community for all regardless of sex, gender, and sexual orientation. We are emphatic to their cause for the recognition of their status as equal citizens with full enjoyment of their rights. We are open to all efforts and partnerships with the members of their community in creating awareness for their cause towards a more inclusive and non-discriminating society.
We condemn all forms and sources of oppression, exploitation, and human rights violations, be it through outright violence or through the destruction of cultural identities of Indigenous People. We call on the review of developmental projects either initiated by the government or private actors. And we demand the immediate preclusion of these projects if found inimical to the principles of justice and human rights as stipulated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
We, the Christian Youth Fellowship, are enjoining our members to re-examine our faith principles and everyday actions. We must inhibit ourselves from behaviours and habits that help perpetuate systems of oppression, discrimination, and exclusion. We are expressing our abhorrence to the culture of consumerism, materialism, and individualism that maintains the system of exploitation. We must be mindful of the goods and services that we consume, taking into consideration the experiences of the workers who have laboured for the production and rendering of consumer goods and services. Bear in mind that we are created in a community with other persons and with all creation (UCCP Statement of Faith). We must be sensitive to the negative implications of our actions to the other members of the oikoumene. We call on the CYF to uphold a life consistent with the UCCP Statement of Faith and the CYF Constitution and By Laws. We shall follow the teachings and principles of our Lord Jesus Christ whose life is a testimony of dauntless and selfless service so that all may enjoy the fullness of life.
We, the Christian Youth Fellowship, are rekindling our commitment in serving our community. We conjure our members to engage in the concerns and issues of our communities and of society at large. We are raging a revolution, a revolution of the heart and the spirit, a revolution of consciousness and culture against evil and oppressive political, economic, and social structures. We are making this radical change, from a world of selfishness and greed, we shall strive to become channels of love and compassion. We are taking radical steps to transform an unjust society to one filled with hope and peace. It is in this endeavour that we enjoin the members of the CYF: to become beacons of light, to be vessels of love, to be ambassadors of Shalom, to be images of goodness, the image of God in the service of all His creation.
We, who have seen the light, will now give light to a dimming world. And we will endure it.
United Church of Christ in the Philippines- Christian Youth Fellowship, 5th National Youth Camp
Philippine Christian University- Union Theological Seminary,
Pala-pala, Dasmariñas, Cavite
May 20, 2017