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Tawanda Chandiwana, center, has been detained in the Philippines since May 9. United Methodist officials are making a public appeal to the Philippines government to release Chandiwana, who has denied any wrongdoing. Officials have asked that he and two other missionaries be allowed to leave the country. Photo courtesy of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
Miracle Osman, center front, has been unable to leave the Philippines voluntarily after her passport was confiscated as she was extending a tourist visa while waiting for her missionary visa. Photo courtesy of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
26 June 2018
The World Council of Churches (WCC) joined the Council of Bishops of the
United Methodist Church (UMC) as well as United Methodist bishops in the
Philippines in appealing to the government of the Philippines for assistance
and cooperation in extracting three United Methodist mission personnel from
The three young UMC mission personnel wish to be allowed to return home
after exhausting all legal and diplomatic efforts.
The three face differing situations with the Bureau of Immigration in the
Philippines. Tawanda Chandiwana, a citizen of Zimbabwe who was detained on 8
May in Davao City, was transferred to a detention center on 4 June. He was
initially charged with overstaying his missionary visa, although he was in
the process of changing his status to a tourist visa as he neared the end of
his mission service in the Philippines. This charge was compounded as a
result of his name being found on a "watchlist".
Miracle Osmond, a citizen of Malawi whose passport was confiscated while in
the process of renewing her missionary visa, also appears to be included on
Adam Shaw, a citizen of the United States, has been ordered to leave and
placed on a watchlist but has been unable to obtain an exit clearance
Chandiwana and Osmond are part of the Global Mission Fellows program of the
United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. Global Mission Fellows
are young adults from around the world who give two years to mission service
in other countries. The program's placements are coordinated with the
partner church in the host country, in this case the United Methodist Church
in the Philippines.
Shaw is a young adult Global Missionary who earlier was a Global Mission
Fellow in the Philippines.
All three mission personnel, assigned to ministries in Davao City, took part
in an international human rights fact-finding investigation in General
Santos Province last February and apparently came under government
surveillance at that time.
WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit added his voice to the calls
for release of the mission personnel. "The WCC has expressed alarm and
outrage at the worsening human rights situation and increasing violence in
the Philippines," he said. "We decry the illegal arrests, extrajudicial
killings, large-scale forcible displacement of Indigenous Peoples, and
damage to schools since martial law was imposed in May 2017."
A WCC Central Committee statement issued last week urges the government of
the Philippines to end the culture of impunity, order the investigation of
all killings, drop the Department of Justice's petition to declare activists
as terrorists, and lift martial law in Mindinao.
Adam Shaw has been informed that an order to leave the Philippines is imminent but it has not been served. Photo courtesy of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.