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NCC General Secretary asks U.S. State Department
to investigate detention of Philippine health workers

New York, February 18, 2010 -- The General Secretary of the National Council of Churches has urged Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to look into the detention of 42 Filipino health workers by Philippine military and police forces on February 6.

The Philippine government claims the workers were preparing violent attacks on the government, a charge one church leader in the Philippines has called, "ludicrous." The workers say they were involved in normal medical activities when they were arrested.

One of the workers, the Dr. Alexis Montes, is a long-time staff member of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines. Montes and his family are well known to many U.S. and international church workers.

"It is a matter of the deepest concern to us in the United States whenever Christian sisters and brothers are threatened by governments and other forces or slanderously accused of illegitimate activities for political purposes," said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC General Secretary, in a letter to Clinton.

Kinnamon asked Clinton "to look into this matter and express the concern and attention of the United States Government."

Earlier, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, wrote to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to express his distress at reports the detainees are being subjected to inhumane treatment.

Bishop Eliezer M. Pascua, General Secretary of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines, said charges that the detainees were supporting violent action against the Filipino government were "ludicrous."

The full text of Kinnamon's letter to Clinton can be viewed at

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

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