Philippine Forum, who has hosted our services and supported many of our campaigns and programs is asking to be reconsidered for lease renewal with due process. Below is the flyer members of Kabalikat, YEHEY! Youth, FiRE, Ny-CHRP, and AnakBayan passed out after Sunday mass to members of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown and its surrounding community.
The First Presbyterian Church of Newtown has falsely reported to its congregation that Philippine Forum has been delinquent with facility rental payments. Therefore, those who rallied on Sunday were met with aggression by specific workers of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown. In one instance, one employee of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown used forceful language and aggression to push protesters off the premises, despite the rally occurring on public property. In another example, protesters were accused to be "from the devil."
More updates will be provided as they become available, but again, thank you for your support!
November 25, 2007
"THE CHURCH IS OUR HOME"
To the Members of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown:
We are on a protest picket to solemnly pray and appeal to the Session of the First Presbyterian Church to reconsider its decision directing us to vacate our offices. We are doing this because we feel that we were deprived of our right to due process, the right to be heard, and also on behalf of the beneficiaries of our various programs most especially the youth who have been affected by the notice of eviction.
On Sept. 21, 2007, the Philippine Forum, through its Board of Directors Co-Chairperson Dr. Ben Ileto, wrote the Session asking for a meeting where we would explain our side. Doctor Ileto's letter was prompted by a letter from Rev. Stanley Jenkins informing us - with no clarification as to the reasons - of the Session's resolution not to renew our lease and asking us to vacate the premises by Oct. 1, 2007 . Our request for a meeting was made pursuant to Exhibit 1: Additional Agreements of the Lease of Church Space, 1 (b), which states: "The Church and Philippine Forum shall meet or otherwise contact each other three times a year … for a review of scheduling or other issues …"
Until now, we have not been granted our request for a meeting despite persistent follow-ups and appeals.
Since April, we had asked Church staff Marjorie and Karen about getting the signed lease but each time, we were told that the person in charge of the lease was not available. Marjorie's departure made it more difficult for us to communicate with the church to discuss rental and other concerns, again in the spirit of Exhibit 1 (Additional Agreements). As a non-profit organization, we needed to submit a signed lease to our funders in order to receive rental reimbursement. Since we never got the signed lease, we did not receive full reimbursement thus making it hard for us to pay the Church on time.
We have also addressed concerns conveyed by Rev. Jenkins regarding our Youth Program including the submission of comprehensive program guidelines on May 9. Reverend Jenkins in August himself relayed to our Executive Director, Robert Roy, that he has seen noticeable improvements in the manner we have been managing our youth program.
The illegal eviction and denial of access to our offices have practically shut down our operations and the provision of needed services to our community. All our programs have been suspended thus adversely affecting their current and future funding. It has created a very big financial burden to the organization especially after we made major renovations to our offices to accommodate our programs ( e.g., shelving and food pantry set-up, electrical wiring, tiling, IT/network set-up and wireless connectivity, etc.). This entire illegal eviction process has been detrimental and catastrophic to the viability of the organization. Needless to say, many of our youth are back in the streets again.
All that we have been asking is something that we believe the Session can easily respond to: A sense of respect and fairness, a sense of due process, and the right to be heard.
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9