Hands Off Otto! Hands off our Church people!

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To stand with the marginalized, with the oppressed and exploited peoples of all nations is not a crime but a genuine expression of our obligation to humanity. It is the prophetic mission of the Church to be with the poor: build the Church of the Poor and to stand with them against all forms of social injustice.

For three decades Otto De Vries has lived a life in service of the working class. Central to his work as a lay missionary, he was stationed in the Philippines in 1991 to live with workers and immerse in their everyday struggles. For thirty years, Otto has been fulfilling his mission by living and breaking bread with picketing and striking workers; joining in their calls for the recognition of their fundamental freedoms and human rights. He has even gone as far as to take on jobs as a welder and electrician, for two decades, to completely live the life and know deeper the conditions and plight of Filipino workers.

Recent events have threatened to put to an abrupt halt Otto’s mission of serving the working class. The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) accused Otto of engaging in activities of terror in its letter to the Bureau of Immigration (BI). The Bureau decided to cancel his permanent resident VISA and issued an Order to Leave. The activities mentioned by the NICA can all be explained within the context of Otto’s work as a lay missionary with which he was given the particular mission of serving the poor workers in the Philippines if only he was given due process. In this light, we maintain that the accusations of NICA and the subsequent cancellation of Otto’s visa by the BI are without legal nor moral basis.

We denounce this deplorable move by NICA and call on all workers’ rights advocates, church peoples, and peace-loving citizens to defend Otto.

We urge the Bureau of Immigration to reissue his permanent resident VISA, remove him from the agency’s blacklist, and cancel its Order to Leave so that Otto may continue his mission in the country by immersing with the workers whom he has selflessly served for the past thirty years.