Church Issues and Concerns . UCCP AKO

UCCP P7-M Tax Assessment on Hospital Canceled

This News Briefs on Jan. 21, 2019 comes from INQUIRER.NET

The P7-M tax assessment on UCCP hospital canceled

The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) has canceled the P7-million income tax assessment against the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) arising from the government’s refusal to apply for the tax-exempt status on its now-defunct Bethany Hospital for the year 2010.

In a Jan. 15 decision, the court’s Special Third Division granted UCCP’s petition to set aside the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s Oct. 15, 2014, final assessment notice and Nov. 7, 2014, formal letter of demand.

The court said the notice and demand letter were null and void for being issued beyond the three-year prescriptive period under the National Internal Revenue Code.

It said the BIR did not justify its failure to meet the deadline.

The BIR invoked fraud as an exemption, claiming that UCCP falsely indicated the Tacloban City-based hospital to be a “tentative exempt organization,” when it was supposedly a nonstock and nonprofit corporation that only enjoyed a 10-percent preferential tax rate.

However, the CTA said the BIR failed to prove UCCP’s intention to evade tax.

The charity hospital was destroyed by Supertyphoon “Yolanda”  in 2013. —Vince F. Nonato

Passage of Siargao Island Medical Center bill pushed

The committees on health, ways, and means and appropriations of the House of Representatives have jointly recommended the approval of a bill converting the local district hospital in Siargao, the surfing capital of the Philippines, into a world-class Level 3 general hospital to be known as the Siargao Island Medical Center.

House Bill No. 8801 seeks to convert the Siargao District Hospital from 25-bed to a 100-bed capacity hospital with modern facilities and upgraded services over a  five-year period.

The bill is now on its third reading at the Lower House. Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas II, principal author of the bill, said Siargao had no private or public licensed hospital to serve the more than 100,000 population of the island’s nine municipalities.

Matugas said the current four district hospitals in the island were licensed as infirmaries.

Read more: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1075201/news-briefs-jan-21-2019

Personal Comment as a UCCP Member

Thus this news nullifies the claim that UCCP property particularly Bethany Hospital is owing to the Philippine government millions of tax liabilities. The UCCP has not paid or is liable to pay any amount of taxes for Bethany Hospital to the Philippine government.

So what’s the rumor that there are UCCP properties for foreclosure due to tax liabilities? Is this a myth?

A Statement of Social Concern-General Assembly

A STATEMENT OF SOCIAL CONCERN
General Assembly
19-24 May 1960

 

INTRODUCTORY THEOLOGICAL STATEMENT

Throughout Asia today, people and their governments are in the midst of political, economic and religious upheaval. The tremors of this upheaval have shaken the old foundations of Asian culture and are making way for the building of new political, economic, and religious structures.  It is imperative that the Church asks herself what her role is in this new day.

The Church cannot hold itself aloof from the world in which it lives. Even as the Lord of the church came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, so He calls His disciples to be His servant-people. (John 13:14-17).  They are called to witness and to serve Christ in the world. (Acts 1:8; Matthews 20:26-28).  It is through its members that the church confronts the world at all points of daily life. (II Cor. 5;17-20). Even as Christ came that men might have life and have it abundantly,  (John 10:10), so Christians are to bear witness to this and have been called from the world into a fellowship of unity and peace with forgiving love by their concern and compassion for the world. (Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 10:23-27).

As one who has been sent forth to live in the world, the Christian needs to know the world in which he lives.  He is to be in the world, but not of the world. Being in the world, the Christian soon recognizes that there are often no clear cut answers to the issues he must face.  He is dwarfed by the enormity of social evils and confused by the complexity of the issues of life. But as a Christian he knows he can neither abdicate his responsibility to face the social evils, nor can he comfort himself with easy answers to difficult social, economic, and political problems. (Philippians 2;12-13).

As he seeks to live in this world, the Christian realizes the necessity of thinking and acting together with other Christians as well as persons and groups other than his own. The Christian does not face the world alone. But he grows in strength through the Christian community he is bound together in the unity of the Spirit with others who belong to Jesus Christ. (Eph. 4:15-16). The Church is composed of men and women from all walks of life and with a variety of experience.  It is within this community that fellow Christians share their knowledge and their experience in the world.  Within this community also God calls his people to listen to what the world is saying to the church. In this act of the church, there is a need for this continual sharing and reflection upon the issues confronting Christians in the world.  As the church does this in faithfulness to the mind of Christ, it can provide its people with a Christian understanding of the issues, a guide for living their faith, and strength for action the present world.

It is in answer to this call to live and to serve God in the world that this statement of social concern is made.  It is provided as a guide for Christian thinking and action in meeting the present problems of Philippine society.

 

The Church and Economic Development

Immediate economic development is today a pressing problem for all Asian countries.  To meet the demands of their people for a more abundant life, the governments of Asia have concentrated their energies in discovering the right economic formula for increasing national income and alleviating their nation’s poverty.

 

Population Trends

The necessity for an immediate solution to economic problems has been intensified by concern over the consequences of present population trends.  Population experts and governmental authorities throughout the world are apprehensive over the ability of the earth’s resources to meet the demands of the rapidly expanding world population.  The problem is especially acute for those nations just beginning to develop their economic potential. In these lands, unrelenting population expansion put even greater pressure on speeding up the process of economic development.

Reliable estimates of Philippine population growth show an annual increase of almost 3%.  In 1957, the Philippines showed a figure of 203 persons per square mile of land area.  By 1980 an estimated population of 57 million will push this figure to over 500 persons per square mile.  This increase in population will vastly affect the direction taken by the Philippine economy in the immediate future. What should the Philippine government stress in its economic development plans? The necessity for the agricultural sector to produce enough food to meet basic human needs stands high on the priority list.  The ability of industrialization to provide the machinery for rapid development and to provide jobs for the increasing numbers entering the labor market is another major concern.  Still, another problem is the need to provide adequate space and facilities for already over-crowded urban areas.

 

Modern Technology

Faced by the immensity of their tasks, Asian governments have looked to modern technology as an answer to their dilemma.  In their plans for economic development, great stress has been laid upon building up the industrial masses.  And industrialization produces mass results. To feed, clothe and house the growing millions require technological efficiency and the methods of production. With this in mind, the Philippine government has made concerted efforts to industrialize its economy.  Leaders in all areas of the nation’s life have pointed to the need for a healthier balance between the agricultural and industrial sectors of the economy.  In the post-war period, the industry has taken on greater importance in the nation’s economy.  The industrial sector which has accounted for 13% of the total national income in 1940 has been raised to a figure of 24% in 1958.  As industrialization becomes more of a force in the nation, the Philippines can look forward to more locally manufactured goods in meeting her people’s particular needs.  Not only will the industry provide more jobs, but it will also decrease the dependence of the Philippines upon overseas manufactured goods.  Industrialization will bring benefits to the people in the form of a greater variety of locally produced goods, in terms of higher wages, and a rising standard of living.  But in this movement to industrialize there are problems which should not be overlooked.

 

Need for Agricultural Development

 There is a danger that in intensifying the demands for industrialization the nation will neglect its agricultural base.  A healthy agricultural sector is not only necessary to the physical well-being of the people, but the income from productive and efficient from productive and efficient agriculture can also provide capital for the development of the industrial sector as well.  It should, therefore, be the concern of the Philippine churches that in the development of the economy, due attention be paid to programs aimed at increasing the productivity and income of the agricultural areas. Alongside this problem is the need to encourage employment in the agricultural areas of the country.  WE LOOK WITH APPROVAL UPON ALL ATTEMPTS AT MEETING THE PROBLEMS OF THE RURAL AREAS WITHIN THE BROAD PERSPECTIVE OF DEVELOPMENT OF COMMUNITY LIFE.  WE GIVE OUR SUPPORT TO PROGRAMS (I.E, PACD) WHICH FOSTER SELF-HELP AND FURTHER COMMUNITY COOPERATION ON THE BARRIO LEVEL. WE ENCOURAGE OUR PEOPLE IN RURAL AREAS TO MAKE USE OF GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE PROGRAMS AIMED AT INCREASING THEIR FARM PRODUCTIVITY AND DEVELOPING SOUND COMMUNITY LIFE.

Believing in the process of grassroots democracy we encourage our rural people to discuss policies of the national government which directly affect the agricultural areas. We, furthermore, encourage them to express their thinking on these issues through local government channels and to those national officials responsible for making Philippine policy and legislation.

 

Industrialization and Rapid Social Change

Another effect which should not be overlooked is the impact of industrialization upon the total culture.  The growth of a strong industrial sector, which took over two centuries in Europe and the United States, cannot be capsulized into a short period of time without having repercussions both on Philippine culture and economy. The demands technology makes upon a people and the new social context it creates, disrupts old cultural patterns.  Industry requires a new discipline which was unknown in farm work.  Factories are run according to strict daily time schedules.  These schedules do not take into account the social obligations of family life or fiesta celebrations.  Industry breaks down old social patterns and draws men into new social relationships which other fellow workers, and with new friends in the city.

 

Urbanization

Industrialization spurs on the growth of cities.  In the organization of industry, factory sites are chosen with an eye to the area’s labor supply, the transportation facilities and a stable market for the product produced.  In underdeveloped countries, the industry chooses existing cities.  Thus in establishing factories in these cities, the industry has helped to create what a UNESCO Report called primate cities. Into these cities flock thousands of people looking for work or seeking and escape from the boredom and drudgery of farm life.  In the rapid growth of cities, social problems have been multiplied beyond the resources of the city governments.  Over-crowding in slum areas create health, law and order, and education problems.

Thus the industry must bear some of the burdens of the social problems it has helped create in the cities.

The Church must apply itself to the problems arising in the cities.  The Church recognizes that the concentration of industry in one year or two urban centers, not only creates over-crowding in these centers, but also deprives other areas of the benefits of industrialization. THEREFORE, WE URGE THE GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE INDUSTRY TO SEEK WAYS IN WHICH THE GROWING INDUSTRY OF THE COUNTRY CAN BE DECENTRALIZED OVER A WIDER AREA.  WE CALL UPON THE NATIONAL AND CITY GOVERNMENTS, AS WELL AS PRIVATE ENTERPRISE, TO EXPAND THEIR PROGRAMS FOR LOW-INCOME HOUSING PROJECTS TO PROVIDE FOR THE GROWING POPULATION OF THE CITIES.  WE ARE CONCERNED WITH THE CITIES’ SOCIAL PROBLEMS AND CALL UPON THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT TO WORK TOGETHER WITH THE CITY GOVERNMENTS IN EXPANDING WELFARE SERVICES FOR THE NUMEROUS SQUATTER FAMILIES AND INDIVIDUALS CAUGHT IN DISINTEGRATING SOCIAL CONDITIONS.  AT THE SAME TIME WE OFFER OUR RESOURCES IN WORKING TOGETHER WITH GOVERNMENT AND OTHER AGENCIES IN STUDYING AND MEETING THESE PROBLEMS.

 

Unemployment

 One of the factors which foster poor social conditions within cities is the problem of unemployment.  Many people in seeking to escape the boredom of the countryside come to the city for work. They come wholly unprepared for the conditions they will face and without the abilities necessary for the employment in the cities’ business life: unemployment is the end result. In viewing this situation the church realizes its own responsibility in appraising its own people in the rural areas of the difficulties of city life.  Not only should the church educate its people in the rural areas to the personal and family adjustment required by city life, but it must point out the limited job opportunities that exist for unskilled workers.

IN THE LIGHT OF THIS SITUATION, WE EONCOURAGE THE APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM AND OTHER PROGRAMS OF THE GOVERNMENT AIMED AT DEVELOPING THE VOCATIONAL SKILLS OF THE PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY.  WE ARE CONCERENED, HOWEVER, THAT THESE TRAINING PROGRAMS SHOULD BE CAREFULLY PLANNED ACCORDING TO PRESENT AND FUTURE INDUSTRIAL NEEDS.  AT THE SAME TIME AS YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN ARE BEING TRAINED FOR INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, WE CALL UPON THE GOVERNMENT, TOGETHER WITH PRIVATE INDUSTRY, TO STRENGTHEN THOSE AGENCIES WHICH ARE CONCERNED WITH THE QUALITY AND STANDARDIZATION OF LOCAL PRODUCTS.

In the rural areas where seasonal unemployment often times sends people to seek their fortunes in the city, the church recognizes the need for the development of household and cottage industries.  WE CALL FOR THE CONCERTED EFFORT OF THE GOVERNMENT IN CARRYING THROUGH COTTAGE INDUSTRY PROGRAMS.  WE NO ONLY ENCOURAGE OUR OWN INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS TO INVEST  IN WELL=PLANNED COTTAGE INDUSTRIES WHICH WILL MEET LOCAL NEEDS, BUT WE ALSO OFFER OUR SUPPORT TO ECONOMICALLY FEASIBLE COTTAGE INDUSTRY PROJECTS.

One of the necessities of spreading the benefits of industrialization is the development of roads in the outlying areas.  Not only do roads help in raising the economic level throughout the country, but they also encourage the movement of industry to other areas.  WE CALL UPON THE NATIONAL, PROVINCIAL AND MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS, TO PROVIDE FOR A WIDER NETWORK OF ROADS IN FURTHERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ECONOMIC POTENTIALITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES.

 

Trade Union Movement and Management Relation

In the last 10 years, the trade union movement has come to play an active role in the Philippine economy.  Since 1953 with the passage of the Magna Carta of Labor, trade unions have grown from 803 to 2,505 in 1959.  As industrialization continues it ca be expected that trade unions will also increase.  Not only had the trade union movement been organizing the industrial sector of the Philippines, but it has moved into the agricultural sector as well.

Trade union exists to see that the benefits of the industrial system are more equitably distributed to those who help produce these benefits.  In a rapidly growing society responsible trade unions are not only means for seeking justice, but they also provide a new social grouping for workers drawn away from the older social patterns of the countryside.  Trade unions have the great task of training those in the lower economic groups to take responsibility as citizens within their own community and in the nation as a whole.  Besides this educational task of the trade union, there is also a need to better prepare their people for the discipline required by the new industrial society. Responsible trade unions have the opportunity of serving the whole people by training their trade unionists to understand their role in the production needs of a growing nation.  Responsible trade union leadership seeks to foster better labor-management relations.

IN THE LIGHT OF THIS SITUATION WE ENCOURAGE A FREE, RESPONSIBLE AND DEMOCRATIC TRADE UNION MOVEMENT.  WE SEE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR EDUCATING THE GREAT NUMBERS OF WORKERS TO RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP AND WORKMANSHIP THROUGH THE TRADE UNIONS.  WE ALSO RECOGNIZE THE PLACE OF TRADE UNIONS IN ACHIEVING A MORE EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF THE BENEFITS PRODUCED BY LABOR.  WE CALL UPON OUR OWN CHRISTIAN WORKMEN TO SUPPORT THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT AND TO PROVIDE THE RESPONSIBLE PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP NECESSARY TO ACHIEVING THE GOALS OF FREEDOM AND JUSTICE IN SOCIETY.  WE ARE CONCERNED ALSO WITH THE TREMENDOUS TASK AND RESPONSIBILITY PLACED UPON MANAGEMENT IN DEVELOPING THE ECONOMIC RESOURCES OF THE NATION.  THEREFORE, WE ENCOURAGE THOSE ENGAGED IN THIS TASK TO DISCOVER WAYS AND MEANS OF DIRECTING THE FORCES OF ECONOMIC LIFE INTO HEALTHY PATTERNS OF COMMUNITY LIVING.

 

The Responsibility of the Laity

 INDUSTRIALIZATION NOT ONLY BRINGS ABOUT NEW SOCIAL STRUCTURES BUT CREATES NEW ATTITUDES TOWARD LIFE. OUR JUDEO-CHRISTIAN HERITAGE, WHICH SEES THE WORKS AS CREATED AND RULED BY GOD, IS REPLACED IN A TECHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY BY AN OVER-APPRECIATION OF MAN’S POWER IN CREATING THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE.  IN A COMMERCIALIZED SOCIETY, THINGS BECOME MORE VALUED THAN PEOPLE. RELIGION BECOMES MORE AND MORE RELEGATED TO THE PRACTICE OF ANCIENT RITUALS AND SPECIAL OBSERVANCES.  REALIZING THE DANGER OF MODERN SOCIETY TO PUSH RELIGION OFF INTO A CORNER, WE REMIND OUR PEOPLE OF THEIR OBEDIENCE TO JESUS CHRIST IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE.  WE RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LAYMAN’S WITNESS IN HIS WORK AND CALL UPON OUR PEOPLE TO LIVE OUT THEIR CHRISTIAN CALLING RESPONSIBLY IN THE POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC REALMS OF DAILY LIFE.  WE DECLARE THAT THE LORD OF THE CHURCH IS ALSO THE LORD OF THE FACTORY, THE FARM, AND THE OFFICE, AND IS SOVEREIGN WHEREVER MEN LIVE AND WORK.

 

POSTSCRIPT

Our attention has been called to other social issues which should concern us as a church. Some of these issues are planned parenthood and birth control, rural credit and cooperatives, the effect of fiestas upon economic life, and Filipino First Policy.  While we consider these issues worthy of the church’s attention we have not had time to study them carefully and thoughtfully.  We, therefore, pass on these problems of the Department of Public Welfare for further consideration and study.

 

 

 

———————————-

Ref: Action 60-55 General Assembly, Legaspi City, May 19-24, 1960 pp.32, Statement is in Appendix pp. 222-227; Action 60-141 Executive Committee, May 27-29, 1960 p.58.

———————————-

 

What is the Problem that has Plagued the UCCP for decades?

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST IN THE PHILIPPINES
877 Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, West Triangle, Quezon City
P.O Box 718, Manila Central Post Office, 1099 Ermita, Manila
Telephone: (632) 426-1729 * 426-3790 * 436-9157 Fax: (632) 426-1729
Email: ogs@uccpchurch.com Website:www.uccpchurch.com

 

October 24, 2017

ON THE CURRENT PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS AT THE UCCP GENERAL ASSEMBLY LEVEL

1. CONCRETE PROBLEM. What is the problem that has plagued the UCCP for decades?

       We had to continue to be highly dependent on foreign sourcing. We had to suit proposals to the priorities of funding agencies to be able to access resources. What were considered traditional ministries such as Christian Education or Evangelism and the financing of our organizational machinery were hardly funded from outside source.
        The UCCP has come out of the post-colonial era, asserted itself to be an autonomous church free from its so-called “mother-churches” from the USA. The acid test for such churches was the tenets of the so-called “Three-Self Movement,” that of being self-governing, self-propagating, and self-reliant. The first two we had lived up to, but we have utterly failed in the third test, that of relying on our own/internal resources to finance the church’s basic and fundamental ministries; and its own administrative and organizational set-up.
       In the meantime, our church workers were/are at the mercy of the local churches. There was/is no standard salary. Many, up to this day, receive less than the minimum wage in their respective regions. A significant number are still not covered by Social Security. Of those enrolled, many have gaps of payments as at one term they are in a church which can afford to pay SSS premiums, then in another term, they are assigned to a church which cannot do so. We do not have a sustainable financial assistance for retired/retiring church workers.1 We barely have a Health/Hospitalization Benefit, nor a realistic Mortuary or Death Benefit Plan.
At the end of EY 2009-10, the year before this present Administration took over, the total WMS receipts was just over PhP4 million. Yet we needed PhP4.8 million if we were to give the P2,500/quarter/church worker. Where will we get that amount?
       In 2008, the National Council made a painful decision to have a moratorium on the GA support to ministerial students, as there were simply no funds.
      When our administration took leadership, we discovered that there was an accumulated PhP28 million pesos deficit. Monies from Trust and Designated Funds were used. The good news is that because of prudent financial management and belt-tightening, we were able to return half at the end of the quadrennium 2010-14. Then before the end of this quadrennium, we have already wiped out the deficit.
These are concrete problems needing concrete solution.

 

2.
Were there not campaigns in the past that would address these problems?
There were two major campaigns: the Self-Reliance Fund campaign and

the 2nd Mile Giving Campaign. But these were largely targeted at members giving to the fund. Both failed to meet their targets.

To cite an example: Even if the target of PhP5 million was reached in the Self-Reliance campaign, the interest earned by that fund in today’s bank interest is very very tiny and miniscule. Only 10 church workers would benefit if given P2.5T/quarter, and we have more than 500 qualified recipients.
3.
What concrete solutions were proposed to deal with this difficulty?
      The Church, under the present leadership, has put up the 500 Club which targets 500 individuals, groups of individuals, local churches, conferences, institutions to pledge P500,000 for a period of 4 years, that would go to Church Workers Benefit Package. But this is also a direct-giving campaign.
      The other was to go into an intentional and purposive comprehensive property development plan, that would turn our idle assets into productive assets, which in turn will enable the Church to meet its needs and obligations; do God’s mission and its ministries, and for it to become self-reliant.
     This plan is nothing new; previous Administrations had their own Property Development Plans but were saddled with a major obstacle: lack of capital. UCCP simply did not have money to make our properties productive.
       Our Church, as a religious corporation (oh yes, we are a corporation duly registered with the SEC), have very limited arena to engage in business and property development. Under the present set-up2, our best options are lease and Build-Operate and Transfer (BOT).
So, why not go into these directions?

 

4.
       We can, of course, do this and had been doing this. But we need the resources now. We need capital to pump-prime other development. Leasing tend to be slow in the return of investment (ROI), and will come in monthly installment throughout the duration of the lease. And so, while the total sum may look big in paper, by the time the lease expires and when inflation is imputed, the lease income is actually very small. (Ask the experience of Negros District Conference on the Aldea lease; or of the UCCP Laoag. It was the developer/lessee who made a killing as he could dictate the rental price for the spaces).
5.
What is the way forward then?
      The present GA Leadership (the Bishops and other GA Officers who form the NEC, and the National Council, with representatives coming from all the conferences) have approved a comprehensive stewardship plan which requires among other things, the putting up of a UCCP wholly owned holding company and a realty company that will operate the temporal or the resource generation side of our Church.
6.
Is this, as alleged, the wild scheme of the “wily tandem”3, namely the National Treasurer and the General Secretary?
No. If I am a member of the NEC or the National Council, I would feel slighted and insulted. This charge makes both bodies as robots or worse marionettes dancing to the tune of the handlers. It makes it appear that the other officers of the church, the other Bishops, the 48 Conference representatives, the organizational heads, etc., as incapable of thinking or are all under the sway of the said officers.
       The truth is this is not a new idea. When we came into leadership, one of the things we did was to encode GA minutes from present going back, to check
2
 The Articles of Incorporation delimits what we can do as specified in the primary and secondary purposes of the UCCP as a corporation.
According to Dr. Everett Mendoza: “Our church and its church workers suffer from hunger and seek immediate relief. Here comes a wily tandem who see the potentials of the church’s inheritance lying idle, and offered to convert it into cash to bring relief to our famished institutions and church workers. They began by leasing to Gaisano half of the Bethany property in exchange for millions of pesos. But they were only testing the waters.
3
Having seen no opposition, the wily tandem proceeded to negotiate a joint venture with a top real estate developer to develop a UCCP property in Malate.” 
On the implementation of GA actions, to review policies and propose revisions and update them when necessary. Two previous General Assemblies have thought of it, but it is only now that the actions are beginning to be implemented.
The GA in Cebu on 1990 made these actions:
Conversion of Church Institutions to Stock Corporation
Voted GA90-72:
To refer the following recommendation to the Legal Committee for study and recommendation to the Executive Committee:
“To study the possibility of converting all existing institutions where properties are exclusively owned by UCCP, to stock corporation and that all stocks be in the name of UCCP
Establishment of Stock but non-profit foundation/or Stock but profit organization/corporation
Voted GA90-73:
That should the feasibility study on the establishment of church- related stock but non-profit foundation or stock, but profit organization/corporation be found viable, the 4th Quadrennial General Assembly mandates the Executive Committee and appropriate body to establish and organize the same.
And then again, the GA in Baguio on 2002 made the following action:
GA7-2002-39:
VOTED: To approve the recommendations of the Policy Discussion

Group on SRD as amended:

     1. The Church shall establish a non-stock investment and management company that may be incorporated as a foundation duly owned by UCCP. It shall serve as the principal or holding company that will manage investments and income generating ventures to support the total lifework and ministry of the Church.
       2.All real properties of the Church (used, under-utilized, un-utilized and idle) shall be utilized to pursue its mission and witness programs.
      So, it is very clear that the idea of putting up a holding company was already thought of and acted upon by previous GAs, but it took us to 2014-2018 to implement it. We asked our Legal Counsel to do a research on what is our best option to implement these actions. The study was duly presented to the National Executive Council.
7.
But wait, was there not a provision in the UCCP By-Laws that created a holding company?
You mean, Art V Section 22 of the UCCP By-Laws?
SECTION 22. The UCCP Resource Development Foundation.
a. The Church shall organize and establish a non-stock, non-profit foundation, which shall be wholly-owned and controlled by the UCCP. The foundation shall serve as the holding company of the Church and shall manage its investment ventures.
       Yes, there was the UCCP Foundation. But it is no longer operational. But more importantly, a foundation is not a proper structure or vehicle for a holding company. A foundation, according to SEC Memorandum 8, series of 2006, is “a non-stock, non-profit corporation established for the purpose of extending grants or endowments to support its goals or raising funds to accomplish charitable, religious, educational, athletic, cultural, literary, scientific, social welfare or other similar objectives.”4 So, a foundation is incongruous to a holding company.
8.
Was the plan to put up a holding and realty company kept secret or hidden as alleged?
      No. This was reported to the NEC, which approved it. It was reported to the National Council and was confirmed by it. There are reports to said bodies. It was shared to and discussed with the CSRD, which even had an action on it.
     Meeting on March 11, 2015, the CSRD, presided by Atty. Levi Ugsad, approved a motion, to wit:
CSRD 03-15: 03
To pass a resolution recommending the creation of UCCP Holdings, Inc., for approval of the National Council
4
http://www.sec.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/sec-memo-8s2006.pdf
       When the FOC Chair asked for documents in a letter dated Sept 28, 20165 addressed to the head of Organizational Ministries, the National Treasurer (NT) responded immediately and positively. This was acknowledged by the FOC Chair in his letter to the NT on Oct. 19, 2016:
From: Noriel Capulong <norielccapulong@su.edu.ph>
Date: 10/19/16 4:19 PM (GMT+08:00)
To: UCCP National Treasurer <millan_nto@uccpchurch.com>, Amy Jaim

<mywelette@yahoo.com>, mindanaoinstitute@yahoo.com, Luna Dingayan

<lunadingayan@yahoo.com>, Everett Mendoza <evermarina@yahoo.com>, Everett Mendoza

<everettlmendoza@su.edu.ph>

Subject: Re: FOC Request for Documents

Dear Larry,
First, I thank you for your immediate response to release the documents we have requested. I just

received it yesterday at the Divinity School office since I am now spending more office time now at the SUCh.

Second, my sense is that the statement that may have been passed on to you could most likely be the older statement drafted by Dr. Mendoza on which I already made some comments and reactions. He then proceeded to write a new statement which is now more objectively and dispassionately written and have included a concrete proposal on how to go about in the matter of developing our properties. This is the paper we will be dealing with and reacting to when he sent this paper specifically addressed to the FOC for us to respond to.
9.
 On the Malate Property. Is it true that there was only one proposal and that we do not have any basis of comparison on the cost of development?
This is not true. First, we had a duly accredited appraiser make a valuation our property. The worth of our property is PhP500 million more or less. The Vista Land appraisal was within the vicinity of that of our own appraiser.
Second, the One Management Board, the General Manager of Shalom as well as the Management Team in the National Secretariat had prospective developers present to them. Poco & Associates, Espina and Espina (though
5
 Excerpts: From: Noriel Capulong <norielccapulong@su.edu.ph>

Date: Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Subject: Emergency FOC meeting

To: sarlyrhaman@gmail.com

..At the same time, in order to guide our deliberations with concrete facts and data and real information, instead of plain speculation, and also for the sake of upholding the principle of transparency in the church may I request beforehand copies of the Inrcoporation papers of both the Realty and Holding companies that have been approved by the NC last 2015. May I also request for a copy of the contract with the Gaisano regarding the lease of the Bethany property.
They wanted just to be supervising architects), the Olunan & Associates (their proposal is competitive with that of Vista Land but they lack the immediate capacity to start the project. They will still gather prospective financiers).
10. According to Dr. Mendoza: These transactions have been undertaken ostensibly by the One Management Board but actually by the National Treasurer in consultation with the General Secretary under a cloud of secrecy. Is this true?
     Again, this is a false claim by Dr. Mendoza. In fact, several developers were asked to make their offers. But only Vista Land followed through with their interest.
      When the Vista Land asked to make their presentation, we called representatives from the UCCP bodies that will have to deal with the matter,
namely: the CSRD, the One Management Board, the Management Team of the
National Secretariat, and the NEC. That was the first time it was presented to the General Secretary and the whole group.
       After the presentation and after the Villar Group left, we had a caucus and we agreed to call the three bodies for a joint meeting. We also agreed to try to reach out to other developers to make their offers. We also agreed on the suggestion of the CSRD Chair, Atty. Levi Ugsad, to see if there are other models than a joint venture and encouraged him to reach his contacts. The GA Chair, Dr. Pio Baconga, also promised to explore possibilities with his contacts.
      Two other persons have contacted the General Secretary to try to get other prospective developers.
11. Is the Vista Land proposal a done deal?
No. In the Joint Meeting we had following the Vista Land presentation, it was decided to give prospective developers to submit and make their offers. Proponents have until Nov. 30 to send in their offers.
In the National Council meeting last August, the General Secretary promised

to bring back to the National Council to decide on the Malate development.

As promised, a special National Council meeting is being called on Dec. 4-5

to look at the Vista Land and other offers, if there are still others. But one

way or the other, a decision has to be made on the offer of Vista Land (either

to accept or reject). The Vista Land is not going to wait forever. If we do not

make a decision, one way or the other, they will move on and look into other

possibilities.

 

12. Why was there no bidding conducted?
       We are not bound by one design that investors/developers can all bid on. We asked prospective developers to see the place, and if they are interested for them to make an offer on how to best maximize the potential of our property and so we had different offers. Olunan and the Villar Group have the same idea of putting up a high-rise condominium. That is the trend in a two-three-kilometer radius for our place.
13. Did you sell, mortgage or encumber the property behind the UCCP HQ/National Office? According to Dr. Mendoza: “The property behind the UCCP national HQ was used to capitalize the registration of two corporations – a realty and a holding company – for the development of the church’s real estate assets outside the system and processes of the church which is the whole rationale for their creation.”
      No. Definitely a lie! If anyone can show proof that it was done so, the General Secretary promised to resign immediately, and hopefully all others allegedly involved will also resign. Why Dr. Mendoza need to embellish his arguments with lies and half-truths is beyond us? Or is he being misled by his so-called “confidential” informer? He has already judged the national leadership guilty, particularly the National Treasurer and the General Secretary; and could not even grant us due process or afford us the time-honored principle of “innocent unless proven guilty.” He cannot even give the grace of presumption of good faith nor the benefit of the doubt. He prefaced the 2nd part of his paper this way:
“Please find attached the article. I was constrained to write a follow-up letter to the UCCP faithful when I noticed that many of those who support the General Secretary’s and the National Treasurer’s actions do so in the belief that the two were acting in good faith and were thinking only of the church’s and the church workers’ well-being and so deserve at least the benefit of the doubt.
But judging from their actions, they don’t deserve this trust…”
Already judged, even before the benefit of reply.
Concluding Remarks:
       The national leadership faced a concrete problem and it offered a concrete solution to it. The national leadership could not afford to sit idly by and do nothing when in fact we can make a difference. In a few months, the General Secretary, some Bishops and National officers will end their terms. At least they can say,
“We are leaving the Church in a much better shape than when we received it, and that until the end of our term, we tried to find ways to improve the lot of our beloved UCCP and its church workers.”
      One day we all must face our Maker and stand before the Judgment Throne, where we will all be made to account for what we had done and failed to do. In this regard, we leave it to God and for history to judge us.
On behalf of the national leadership,
Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza
General Secretary
DR. PIO D. BACONGA, CPA, MBA, DFRIAcc
Chairperson, UCCP General Assembly
LAURO C. MILLAN
National Treasurer

 

A Chronology of Events on the Crisis that has Gripped the UCCP

This document is a raw material from Dr. Noriel Capulong as the author of the article. I am posting this for everyone to think about, and assess whatever truths and fallacies within it.

Anybody can come and bring in your opinion, your assessment of the events and processes mentioned here in the light of our Constitution and By-Laws and of course our Bible as our guide. 

Leave your comments in the comment box just below the end of this article.

 

Nov. 8, 2013–  Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the city of Tacloban along with other areas in Eastern Visayas. Forced the closure of establishments in the city including UCCP Bethany Hospital, a tertiary, hospital of choice servicing the whole of region 8 (Leyte, Samar, Biliran). 2013 was then its 95th year of operation and preparing already for its centennial celebration in 2018.

Local volunteers and workers immediately began cleaning up the debris left in the premises of the hospital. First floor was flooded, windows and roof were damaged but no structural damage detected.

Doctors without Borders (Medicins sans Frontiers or MSF) set up its own tent hospital in the premises of Bethany and offered to fix and replace the damaged roofing and offered help also, even some valuable equipment to get the hospital reopened. It attended to numerous patients who were victims of Typhoon Yolanda from various parts of the region.

Then DOH Undersecretary Paulina Ubial visited the hospital premises and urged the hospital officials to reopen as soon as possible due to the serious health and humanitarian situation in the area as a result of the devastating typhoon. She offered hospital equipment for whatever was damaged or destroyed in the typhoon. She offered to reassign medical personnel including doctors and nurses if Bethany’s own could no longer report for work. If ever immediate finance is needed, she urged the hospital officials to charge the bills of all patients they treat to PhilHealth and DOH will help facilitate. Dr. Ubial received no response.

May 2014 – UCCP General Assembly in Legaspi City. In response to the strong resolution of the delegation from Leyte, an action was unanimously approved by the GA, “To task the National Executive Council (NEC) to expedite the rehabilitation  and reopening of Bethany Hospital as soon as possible.”

Oct. 4, 2014 – NEC decided to declare total closure of Bethany Hospital. The reason advanced was the claimed serious financial losses of the hospital which prevents it from paying off its payables to its employees and other obligations.

NEC also made another action recommending to the National Council, To engage the services of an auditing firm for a financial audit of Bethany Hospital, Tacloban to determine the financial losses of Bethany, as a result of Typhoon Yolanda.

This means the NEC declared total closure of Bethany Hospital without any clear and external audit based determination of the financial condition of the hospital.

(As of Jan. 21, 2018, the court of tax appeals has thrown out or dismissed the BIR’s tax assessment and demand letter on UCCP Bethany Hospital in Tacloban to the amount of P7M due to BIR’s failure to prove that UCCP Bethany Hospital was trying to evade paying taxes.)

October 27-29, 2014– National Council Meeting in Maasin, Leyte.

  • The NC voted to affirm the above recommendations of the NEC.
  • The NEC also recommended to the National Council for approval the expansion of the duties of the National Treasurer to be the one in charge of overseeing the major program undertakings of the church: Human Resource Development, Finance, and Property Development. This is part of his proposed 20-year Stewardship program. So as not to appear taking over the constitutional role of the Commission on Stewardship and Resource Development, it also stated that these functions will be carried out in coordination with the CSRD.
  • The National Council also approved this recommendation of the NEC along with many others.

Not long after, the main edifices of Bethany Hospital were demolished without any prior authorization from the National Council. The NC action only gave the approval for the closure but not to the demolition of the building.

August 20-22, 2015

  • National Council in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, approved the recommendation of the NEC to create a UCCP Realty Co. and a UCCP Holding Company.
  • The Reality Company will be in charge of investing or leasing the properties of the church.
  • The Holding Company will be in charge of taking control and ownership of prime properties of the church as a stock, for-profit corporation.

 

March18, 2016

  • UCCP entered into a 40 year lease contract with Gaisano Metro Retail Corp. for a Mall to be built in the area of the Bethany Hospital. (CSRD policy for leasing properties is 20 years only).
  • The contract was sealed with the first payment of advance rental of P7, 350,000 in spite of the strong letter of concern from the CSRD members and another letter from the chair of the CSRD.
  • Total payment of advance rental amounted to P 75.9M. Details of payments and releases will be presented later.

October 21, 2016

Faith and Order Commission met to respond to the issues raised concerning the creation of the Realty and Holding Companies.

 

October 25, 2016

Faith and Order Commission sent an urgent letter of Concern to the Council of Bishops expressing alarm over the creeping corporatization of the UCCP Properties and the church losing control over their own properties. They also recommended an alternative means of development of church properties involving a more constitutionally based tripartite participation of the local church, conference and national office in the planning and implementation of every property development project. The point is, we can develop our church properties without having to violate the constitution and by-laws of our church.

It took time for the Council of Bishops to call for a dialogue meeting with the FOC.

February 28, 2017 – The NEC registered for incorporation at the Securities and Exchange Commission the new entity,  United Shalom Medical Center in Tacloban City without any approval from the National Council nor the General Assembly. This is supposed to take the place and functions of the demolished Bethany Hospital.

June 12, 2017 –Finally, the FOC had a dialogue with the Council of Bishops on the issue of church property development. No resolution was arrived at after the whole morning and afternoon meeting. The bishops strongly justified the ongoing corporatization of church properties but promised to respond to the alternative proposal of the FOC in the development of church properties. They never came out with a response.

October 25, 2017–Chairman of the Commission on Stewardship and Resource Development, Atty. Levi Ugsad sent an open letter to Gen. Sec. Reuel Marigza questioning the Gaisano lease contract and the impending joint venture agreement with Vistaland over the Malate lot near Shalom Center both of which had been cited for violation of the church policy on property development.

November 18, 2017-The Faith and Order Commission had a special meeting held at Silliman University Church and discussed the current issues emanating from the actions of the national leaders regarding property development and the question of constitutionality as well as theological viability of their plans and directions of their policies and the ethical implications on the life and organization of the church. In light of the dominant atmosphere of secularization and corporatization seemingly gripping the majority of church workers and officers of the church, the commission felt that there is a need for more theological coherence and biblical re-awakening in approaching the issues that were arrived at.

November 21, 2017

The Faith and Order Commission issued its official statement unanimously approved by the members, “The End Does Not Justify the Means.” (available on the Pagmata file). It attempted to view the issue of property development as essentially a theological and ethical issue that requires the serious attention of every church member. It cited the growing contradiction between what a church as UCCP ought to be and what appears to be happening recently which tend to distort the very image of the church as the body of the servant Christ. It presented a more biblical understanding of land and property and how it is supposed to be taken cared of and  used by those entrusted  with it as a Trust Asset being missionary-religious properties. It also presented a number of recommendations most of which restate the original recommendations made in the earlier letter of concern sent to the Council of Bishops a year earlier.

The official FOC statement was blocked from the UCCP website and prevented from being seen by most of the UCCP constituents. It was then that the website group Pagmata UCCP (Wake Up UCCP!) was born, initiated by members of the Chapel of the Evangel Fellowship in Dumaguete  City. Aside from providing a venue for the posting of the FOC statement and other articles, it exposed the questionable issues surrounding the matters of the Bethany closure and demolition and the contract with Gaisano for the building of a mall as well as the impending contract with Vistaland for the construction of a 42 story twin tower condominium on the Malate lot near Shalom Center. Both contracts and their terms remain undisclosed to the church members as of this time.

December 4-5, 2017
Special National Council Meeting was convened by the General Secretary at the UCCP Shalom Center for the purpose of approving the proposed joint venture contract with Vistaland for the building of a twin tower condominium at the Malate lot near Shalom Center. Both the chairs of the Faith and Order Commission and that of the Commission on Stewardship and Resource Development questioned the proposed contract, the actual provisions were not even shared to the delegates. The CSRD chair questioned the proposal on grounds that it did not follow the required procedures as provided in the Church Policies and Guidelines on Property Development- no prior project or Feasibility Study, no public bidding, no environmental impact study, no risk analysis. Original land title could not even be presented to determine in whose name is the title registered.

The Special National Council voted to approve the proposed contract with Vistaland even though the contract was never seen nor scrutinized by the delegates, its risks and liabilities were never discussed, only the proposed benefits were highlighted. Meanwhile, the Pagmata UCCP group held a candlelight prayer vigil at their chapel grounds to pray for the meeting.

January 9, 2018
Two members of the Faith and Order Commission, chair Noriel Capulong and member Everett Mendoza filed a complaint with the National Commission on Discipline and Conflict Resolution. Among others, it calls for the nullification of the contract entered into with Metro Gaisano for the building of a mall in the area that was once Bethany Hospital Compound, the dissolution of the board of the newly created United Shalom Medical Center which is claimed to be the restored Bethany Hospital. It also prayed for the nullification of the action of the National Council giving the National Treasurer the power to oversee the Finance, property development and the human resource programs of the church for being unconstitutional. It also prayed for the issuance of an injunction to prevent the officers from proceeding to sign the contract with Vistaland for the construction of a twin tower condominium in the Malate lot area.

January 12, 2018 – NEC, by virtue of the approval given by the NC authorized the General Secretary to sign the contract with Vistaland for a joint venture agreement to build a twin tower condominium in the area adjoining Shalom Hotel in the corner of Luis Guerrero and Malvar Sts. In the same meeting of the NEC, they claimed to have met also as National Council which then proceeded to proclaim a series of new amendments to the Constitution and By-Laws of the UCCP which were never presented on the floor of the General Assembly and were never presented to the conferences for ratification. One highly questionable provision inserted in the new amendments refers to the matter of dissolution: “Par. 11 of the 2018 Amended Articles of Incorporation of the UCCP states: That in the event of dissolution, the assets of the organization shall be distributed to another accredited NGO/Foundation organized for similar purpose/s, or to the State for purpose/s or would be distributed by a competent court of justice to another NGO/Foundation to be used in such manner as in the judgment of said court.” (As amended by NC action, UCCP West Triangle Cathedral, Quezon City, January 12, 2018)

The officers went on to register these series of amendments before the SEC where it was approved. These actions were never reported on the floor of the last UCCP General Assembly, last May 2018. It was not included in the minutes of NEC or NC meetings submitted to the GA last May. This illegal action of the NEC is now the subject of a resolution filed at the RTC of Davao City praying among other things for the nullification of such amendments.

January 19-20, 2018
The newly born Pagmata UCCP group held its first Summit in Dumaguete City. It was attended by more than 100 participants from various churches in the Visayas and Mindanao and a few from Luzon. It heard inputs on the issues regarding the Bethany Hospital closure and subsequent demolition and leasing of property to Metro Gaisano Malls, the Vistaland condominium project at the Malate property. The participants also heard an initial analysis of the state of finances of the UCCP based on the earlier financial reports of the National Treasurer. The participants then went into small group discussion for further planning and organizing of regional movements for the education of more UCCP members and pastors.

Other regional Pagmata Summits led by Dr. Everett Mendoza were held in different cities in the Visayas and Mindanao Areas (Davao, Tacloban, Cabadbaran, Cagayan, Dipolog, Ipil, Masbate. Shorter Fora were held in Dumaguete City church, Mabinay, churches in North Negros, Lapulapu City, and finally only last Nov. 29, 2018 at the Ellinwood Malate Church. Meantime, the followers of Pagmata has climbed to almost seven thousand viewers and members. More fora are being scheduled in different places even in Luzon. In most of these regional fora and summits there were always attempts by representatives of the national officers to discourage, intimidate, coerce if not outrightly prevent the local hosts from proceeding with the event. There were threats of disciplinary action on pastors who would join the growing movement. Incoming ministerial students were pressured not to enroll at the Divinity School. Those who still proceeded were threatened with cancellation of their scholarship support.

March 3, 2018-First hearing of the complaint filed by Noriel Capulong and Everett Mendoza was held at the Shalom Hotel in Malate. The respondents, led by the General Secretary, Bp. Reuel Marigza thru their counsel, Atty. Edre Olalia immediately moved for the dismissal of the complaint on grounds of technicality. The motion, however, was not entertained. After a day-long hearing, focusing yet on preliminaries the next session was set for April 14, 2018, also at the Shalom Hotel.

April 14, 2018-The second hearing of the complaint was held at the Shalom Hotel. The NCDCR suggested some form of amicable settlement which the complainants rejected. The NCDCR then suggested another form of resolving the case, through a mediation process. Both parties agreed to a three-member team of mediators who are respected and are in good standing in the church. They are to be facilitated by a trained professional mediator. The complainants suggested the name of national scientist Dr. Angel Alcala. The respondents suggested the name of Dr. Jurgenne H. Primavera. The NCDCR suggested the name of Dr. William Padolina. The three are all well known and respected scientists and members in good standing. The professional mediator contacted and who agreed was Ms. Marides Virola Gardiola. The complainants requested that the first mediation session be held in Dumaguete since they have been doing all the traveling and spending for the past two sessions. The NCDCR agreed and the first mediation session was set on May 15, 2018 in Dumaguete City.

May 15, 2018– First Mediation session in Dumaguete City. But none of the respondents came. They asked instead to talk to the Mediators via a skype connection, saying that they are too busy to leave their offices. The mediators talked separately to both the complainants and the respondents, the latter, through skype connection. Among the recommendation arrived at by the mediators after this meeting was for the General Assembly which will be held soon, the following week, be directed by the NCDCR to not discuss or take action for approval or confirmation all matters or issues related to property development. This is so that any GA decision will not render moot and academic any possible resolution that may be arrived at by the mediation session. The NCDCR accepted such recommendation of the Mediators and issued a directive to the officers of the GA to refrain from discussing or taking any action on any matter related to property development which includes the case of the Bethany-Gaisano contract and the case of the Vistaland condominium project. The NCDCR also directed all parties to refrain from engaging in rallies, demonstrations and public forum in the vicinity of the GA. At the same time, it also issued a status quo order to the respondents to prevent any activity related to the Vistaland and Gaisano construction contract.

May 23-27-11th General Assembly of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. The GA observed the order of the NCDCR not to act on any matter pertaining to property development. Thus the contracts with Vistaland and Gaisano were not confirmed. There was however an attempt in the opening session, during the report of the Review Committee, tasked with reviewing the actions of the previous GA in 2014 in Legaspi, to invalidate the motion that was unanimously approved then, that of tasking the NEC to rehabilitate and reopen the Bethany Hospital as soon as possible. The attempt was based on an argument that such motion passed during the last GA was invalid because the movant, the chair of the FOC) was not a voting member of the assembly. It was a brazen attempt to erase any trace of a serious historic blunder committed at Bethany. There was a long impassioned debate on the issue. Finally, the assembly approved the report of the review committee without their suggested corrections.

June 14, 2018-The next mediation session was held at the Shalom Hotel in Malate. This time, only Bp. Reuel Marigza (the former Gen Sec) attended. The two other respondents, Larry Milan, and Pio Baconga did not show up even though they just attended a meeting of all the commissions the day before in the same venue. Earlier, the NCDCR, adopting the recommendation of the Mediation team had issued a directive, ordering the National Treasurer to submit a status report on the Finances received from Gaisano and Vistaland together with the list of their releases. The national treasurer however submitted only the financial status regarding the advance rentals paid by Gaisano amounting to P75.9M with the list also of releases from such an amount.

The following are the list of receipts and releases of the Gaisano rental fund.  After receiving an initial amount of  P 7, 350,000 other subsequent payments came as follows:

May 27, 2016 ………..5,150,000.00
June 20, 2016 ………10,000,000.00
August 25, 2016 …..53,400,000.00

A total amount of advance rental paid by Gaisano was  P 75, 900, 000.

The following releases were then made:

RELEASES

UIHM – Demolition/clearing expenses                                12,500,000.00
Investment – UCCP Shalom (Haran), 6% interest, 5 years    7,000,000.00
Investment – UCCP Shalom (Cebu), 5% interest, 5 years    10,000,000.00
Investment – VCMC, 6% interest, 5 years                            6,000,000.00
Investment – ECLOF, 6.5% interest, 3 years                       10,000,000.00
Loan payment to DBP (VCMC loan)                                    10,276,111.11
General Assembly 2018                                                      2,000,000.00
Return of interfund borrowing                                           16,899,992.00
Union Christian College (Lot purchase)                                2,500,000.00
Total                                                                                                          P77,176,103.11
BALANCE                                                                                                     (1,276,103.11)

The balance after releases actually produced a more than 1M deficit with the biggest release used to pay up the advances or borrowings taken from the Restricted Fund made up of the Endowment Funds for Church Workers benefit, Retirement and Scholarships, etc.

These matters were not fully discussed during the Mediation because of the absence of the national treasurer. The complainants expressed their deep frustration at the attitude and seemingly cavalier and uncaring response of the respondents. Discussion of issues again focused on both the Bethany and Vistaland cases as well as the matters of the stewardship program of the church now under the direct supervision of the national treasurer. After a whole morning and whole afternoon discussion that often times became heated it was clear the former Gen Sec was banking on their own interpretation of the CBL which he believes has granted equal powers and authority to the National Council, making it a co-equal decision-making body of the General Assembly. That is why for him, the action of the NC is enough for the contract with Vistaland to be executed to its full completion without requiring any confirmation from the GA. This, even if there is a status quo order from the NCDCR. Near the end of the discussion, he gave a little concession when he said that he will try to make the NEC reconsider its decision giving overseer powers to the NT over the matters of finance, property development, and human resource development.

August 1-The next Mediation Session again took place at Shalom Hotel. This time, the new Gen Sec. Bp. Melzar Labuntog was present along with two of the respondents, NT Larry Milan and former Chair of the GA Pio Baconga. Later, the new chair of the General Assembly, Mr. Keith Quebral came and joined the process. The mediators reviewed the progress made by the process so far along with some consensus made in the previous sessions.

Again the complainants brought up the main issues of the Bethany and Vistaland contracts and reiterated the need for the documents to be presented, the signed contracts, the land titles and the original deed of donation of the Malate property. At first, the respondents, Larry Millan, Pio Baconga together with Bp. Labuntog joined their voices and with hands raised insisted that there was yet no contract signed with Vistaland. Confronted however with the record of the minutes of January 12, 2018, NEC meeting they admitted that what was signed was a contract for a Joint Venture Agreement with Vistaland. It was made clear that the invitation to submit proposals to develop the area was confined only to few “reliable” developers and did not go through a public process of bidding as required by church policy and guidelines.  The respondents were also confronted with reports of actual activity in the Malate lot in question pointing out to them the fact that a perimeter fence with the promotional ads and logo of Vistaland is now put up in the whole area and that agents of Vistaland are now soliciting potential unit buyers for the condominium. Respondent Millan explained that Vistaland is only in the stage of promotion but not yet in the stage of preselling.

They were reminded of the prevailing status quo order from the NCDCR to which they did not anymore answer. It was also made clear that there was no consultation made with the local stakeholders (LCSMC and Ellinwood Church) in the area in the decision made for the development of the Malate lot area. The session ended with little consensus such as the need to really revise the processes of decision making which have become confusing for the church and the need for more transparency and feedback system in policy making as well as in the matter of transforming the use of the property from religious-educational to commercial purposes. But the main concerns of the complainants as to the questionable, illegal status of the Gaisano and Vistaland deals were not actually resolved. The lead mediator said that it will now be up to the NCDCR if the mediation process will still be continued. The Mediation team came up with some recommendations to the NCDCR which the NCDCR approved and it then issued a directive.

August 21, 2018-NCDCR issued an order directing both parties to extend the Mediation process subject to the agreement of both parties as recommended by the Mediation Team and to provide the commission copies of the documents pertaining to the contract with the Vistaland Joint Venture Agreement and for the respondents to observe the Status Quo with regard to the Vistaland project.

August 31-Sept. 1, 2018 -Pagmata UCCP National Convention, in Dumaguete, with 100 plus, more national in scope with participants coming from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, with more new members added.  Seven participants came from NESTCON. With reports on the latest developments, analysis of events. Planning for a regional organization. 4R Movement launched under the Banal na Bubong ng Dios.

November 5, 2018-The petitioners Capulong and Mendoza received copies of an Omnibus Motion filed by the respondents thru their lawyer Atty. Edre Olalia petitioning the NCDCR to

  1. Lift the status quo order on the Vistaland project
  2. Withdraw the NCDCR order for the Vistaland contract to be submitted to the NCDCR.
  3. To declare the termination of the Mediation process
  4. To cite the petitioners Capulong and Mendoza in contempt and for disciplinary measures to be imposed on them.

Both Rev. Capulong and Rev. Mendoza issued separate replies to the NCDCR on their own without resorting to the help of their lawyers in observance of the fact that since the Mediation period is not yet officially terminated, lawyers should remain out of the picture and should not intervene.

November 2018-Some local churches began receiving notices from their respective conference ministers of an impending plan to visit all the churches for an evaluation of their programs, registration, and finances as well as an inventory of their properties.

November 2018-Bp. Melzar Labuntog sent a letter to the president of Philippine Christian University informing the latter of the plan to develop the property occupied by the Union Elementary School and the need for the property to be vacated by December 31, 2018, and the school to be relocated to the main campus in Taft Ave.

November 24, 2018 –Ellinwood Malate church held a meeting of concerned members regarding the issue of the impending demolition of the UES. They later issued a statement of concern calling on the church officials to reconsider their plans regarding the UES property.

November 29, 2018-Rev. Noriel Capulong filed a complaint before the prosecutor at the Quezon City Hall of Justice,  a criminal complaint against Bp. Melzar Labuntog, Mr. Larry Millan for violation of the Corporation Code Sec. 74, for their failure to provide access and the right to examine the requested documents of the church. The complaint contains the demand for 17 documents which the respondents have refused to provide copies to the complainant.

Later on the same day of Nov. 29, the team of Rev. Noriel Capulong, Dr. Everett Mendoza, and Ms. Jean Espino went to Ellinwood Malate Church and led in a forum hosted by the church regarding church property development with special attention to the ongoing controversy regarding the impending demolition of the Union Elementary School.

December 4, 2018 –A group of alumni, faculty and students and friends of the Union Elementary School held a picket rally in front of the school demanding that the school be not demolished and that its educational mission be made to continue to in the same location.

More activities, forums and educational gatherings are being planned for the sake of the informing and equipping more of the UCCP constituents regarding the issues surrounding the property development schemes of the national leadership.

================
Later developments

Acts 5:33-39

Prepared by Rev. Noriel C. Capulong
Dec. 14, 2018

=======================

 

 

 

 

 

 

Analysis and Response to the Crisis of the UCCP

UCCP is in a virtual state of siege.  A silent creeping “palace coup” has installed an administration that combines a
corporatist system of management and a militarist command structure.  NEC officials, past and present, are complicit to it.

The traditional church government prescribed in the UCCP Constitution & By-Laws has been effectively sidelined.  Formal constitutional and legal processes, including national elections, are disregarded or maintained but only in form.

This is the reality behind the approval of the Gaisano lease and the Vistaland joint venture and the recently concluded national elections at the General Assembly.

The cases filed at the NCDCR (Capulong & Mendoza vs. Marigza, Millan, et. al on the cancellation of the Vistaland deal and the UCCP Davao City vs. NEC on the nullification of the amendments to the CBL) and the election protest are but manifestations of an on-going resistance to the coup.  The Administration forces are on full alert to suppress all opposition movements and actions.

We stand on a moral and spiritual high ground in an arena which is essentially moral, theological and spiritual – that’s indisputable.  But they are correct in their estimation that there is a political aspect in this.  In a political confrontation, might not right, rules.  Thus, we need to take stock of what we have in the political equation.

While they control the strategic heights of the system, opportunities to gain advantage on the ground are open to us.  On the ground are the local churches and their members, most of them suffering from years of exploitation and neglect, both by Government and the Church.  Theologically and politically, this is our mission field … and field of struggle.

A solid mass of informed, enthusiastic and organized local churches can be galvanized to redirect the Church towards a recovery of her historic Reformed faith and restoration of her traditional church order as it is so declared in the UCCP Constitution and By-Laws sans its subsequent amendments.

But not only our heritage of faith is at stake but also the mission properties that the Church has inherited from the Protestant missions.  Bethany Hospital was wiped out of the map and soon forgotten.  The mission lot in Malate dedicated to theological and Christian education will be lost to a high-rise condominium.

The unamended Constitution is a document derived from Basis of Union and to the founding Constitution of 1949.  Thereafter, it suffered from amendments that (1) created the National Executive Council and later made the Board of Trustees consistent with the corporate powers of a business corporation; (2) effectively abolished local church autonomy while strengthening the hands of Bishops over Conference Ministers and the latter over Church Workers.

The main task before us is to spread the truth among members in the local churches, motivate, organize and guide them towards concrete actions to achieve our goals.  This is the mission of the 4-R’s movement and its organizational expression, the Fellowship (Balaang Bobong sa Dios?).

Our Identity as a Church

Who are we and what do we aim to achieve?  We are UCCP members engaged in a huge undertaking to reform UCCP to restore its authenticity and relevance following the 4 R’s Principles:  Reclaim – Restore – Rebuild – Revive.

RECLAIM – The past years, even before the 2018 GA, UCCP has shown signs of drifting away from the principles that brought together 5 Protestant Churches into an organic union.  This trend was formally declared in the recent NCDCR opinion that the Basis of Union has been effectively abrogated upon the approval and adoption of the UCCP Constitution.

This is a betrayal of a trust.  It is essential to the life of the Church to remain theologically and institutionally connected to its roots and historic traditions.

RESTORE – Local church autonomy is the foundational principle of the life, ministry and mission of the Church.  However, a creeping hierarchical church order is gradually eroding the rights and prerogatives of local churches and has been institutionalized by the amendments to the CBL and approved at the 2018 GA.

The restoration of this principle is imperative for the re-empowerment of local churches to realize their theologically-based and constitutionally-mandated functions and duties.

REBUILD – UCCP’s original church order has suffered violence and disfigurement by administration particularly over the last two quadrennia.  Rebuilding the structures and processes of the Church based on its historic traditions would provide the institutional environment required for her recovery.

REVIVE – Given the right institutional environment a concerted, organized and orderly push at the local church level would lead the UCCP on the way to a truthful and more revitalized life, ministry and mission.

 

A Fellowship Concept

 Balaang Bobong Sa Dios, “Sacred Household of God”: A Fellowship of local churches committed to the goals of the 4-R’s Movement.

The Fellowship is not an alternative UCCP Conference nor an autonomous segment of it but an inter-conferential sharing fellowship of local churches and congregations. Their programs and activities are expressions of the principle of local church autonomy in conformity to the UCCP CBL.

Component Programs:

  1. Paglab-as sa Pakigsaad– Theological, Liturgical, Spiritual Renewal: lay leaders’ theological education, church leadership and creative liturgy based on UCCP’s traditional teachings, practices and mission programs. (Chap. 24: Joshua’s Shechem convocation.)
  2. Bahin ni Levi” – Program for the material support in the form of monthly subsidy of church workers in the Fellowship through a church tithe (not individual) to be administered by a committee of lay deacons. (Hebrew law of tithing.)
  3. Parasan sa Dios” – Local church property development, esp. livelihood projects and enterprise. The aim is to raise the members’ standard of living and support for the Church and community.  Start-up support may come from state or private agency funding (Jesus feeding of the 5,000.)

Where do we start? We start with who we are as UCCP, which is a Refomed evangelical church.  Her basic organizational principle of fellowship is local autonomy.  So we start the 4-R’s movement in the local churches in fellowship with one another.

The goal is to make the Fellowship a transforming presence in UCCP in all aspects of her life, ministry and mission.  So, the so-called wider judicatories are not our direct targets of engagement, but change at the top would be the consequence of the transformation of the local churches through the Fellowship.

New Testament Model:  the beginning, growth and expansion of the church – the word church, ekklesia, means those who are called out of the world to form a community for a special vocation (1 Pet. 2:9).  Within the koinonia of the church is a circle of members called apostles, those who are sent forth to spread the gospel to every corner of the world (Matt. 28:18-20).

The apostolic circle was the core and center of gravity of the early church without which the church would have been assimilated into the ancient religions of the Empire or crushed by her persecutors.  Hence, the formation of the apostolic core of the church was conceived as part of the divine plan for the realization of her vocation.

Analysis and Response to the Crisis-Church with Apostolic Core

 

Through Pagmata, UCCP may retrace this history towards the formation of the Fellowship.  Some UCCP members are being called out from her general membership to lead a movement and form a fellowship within the koinonia of the Church, who are dedicated to reform UCCP to restore her authentic identify and calling.

Eventually, the boundary between the Church and the Fellowship would become porous and transparent but without losing the distinction – analogical to a sanctified world and the kingdom of God.

The Fellowship will continue to be a movement within the UCCP animating her common life, her work and her mission in the world as a church of Jesus Christ. In a real sense, the Fellowship follows the priesthood identity and role of the church within a wayward UCCP.

As a Fellowship, everything that we do in life is anchored in God and Jesus is our anchor.  Our worship, common life and witness in the world are meant to reflect life in the kingdom of God.  This is our being.

Analysis and Response to the Crisis-Fellowship Identity and Calling

 

Social advocacy is part of Christian discipleship (Luke 4:12-18), but not its be-all and end-all.  The same is true with worship and the common life.  Neither one alone should consume life in the Fellowship but the three nourishing one another (John 10:10: “I came that you may have life, abundant life.”)


ORGANIZING WORK:

The principle of “from small to big, from few to many.”

Contacts – contact persons in local church from Pagmata data base.

Core Groups – 3-5 contact persons to form a core group in the local church.

Local Church Chapter – 3-5 core groups comprising 25% of members to form a Local Church Chapter.

Provincial Chapter – Local Church Chapters comprising 25% of local churches to form a Provincial Chapter.

REGIONAL FELLOWSHIP –  3-5 Provincial Chapters.


Methodology
(not necessarily in the order presented)

Background investigation (BI) of prospective core group members.

Study-Reflection of 4-R’s documents in core group discussions.

Planning and evaluation

General orientation-seminar open to all local church members.

Invitation to join the local fellowship.

Sharing and fellowship gatherings.


Activities

Regular Fellowship meetings with Bible Study, prayer, sharing news and concerns.

Local and Provincial observance of significant dates, personal, church, national.

Reproduction and sharing of reading/study materials.

Humanitarian, socio-economic and livelihood projects.

Inter-church visitation & lakbay-aral.

 

OPERATIONAL SYSTEM – Connecting the parts to the whole:  The HUB

  • Monitoring
  • Communication
  • Sharing of information & resources
  • Concerted actions
  • Fellowship

Analysis and Response to the Crisis-Central Hub

 

Analysis and Response to the Crisis-Regional Hub

 

Analysis and Response to the Crisis-Provincial Hub

 

Inside the HUB

  • Liaison
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Expansion
  • Resource Generation
  • Events Coordination

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