Corruption in the Philippines

From: "Jim C. McDonald" <>
Subject: The benevolence given in Mindanao:
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 13:52:40 -0400

Dear Glen,

I have read the different exchanges that you have had with brethren, as well as the different charges you have leveled against
Filipino brethren; myself, Ron Halbrook, Earl Mitchell and perhaps others. I take my time in responding to matters of this nature, Glen, because I wish to have full documentation of the things I say, and report no untruths. Over the past several weeks I have checked, questioned and tried to get documentation to establish everything I have said, or am about to say. The use of witnesses to establish the credibility or truth of any matter is proper and right. Under the law of Moses, none were to be put to death save at the testimony of 2 -3 witnesses (Deut. 17:6). Jesus presented witnesses relative to his claims, John 5 and Paul informed brethren at Corinth that he was coming to them and that charges of any wrong doings there would established at the mouth of two or three witnesses (2 Cor. 13:2). In your earliest post (that I saw) you charged that my account of the need in Mindanao was "even worse than the one you sent. By 'worse" i mean more full of lies, deception, and misinformation. I do no mean to accuse Jim McDonald or Ron Halbrook, but rather the Filipinos who are deceiving these brethren". In a later post you call the information which came from these brethren a "scam". That is a serious charge, Glen.

In that earliest post you state that:
"The government is at peace with the muslims"
"The communists have never been a big threat in Mindanao"
"The part about brethren having to flee is just a lie"
"Some problems with rats and locusts" -- but this would not affect Christians to a large degree, for "the affect people were 'mountain tribals'"..."There can be no Christians among the tribals because Christianity is not a native religion.
If a tribal is converted he or she must leave the tribe...I have only heard of less than a dozen tribals who have been converted."
"There have been NO deaths due to starvation in Mindanao in 1999.
So again more lies."

I have traveled in Mindanao several times and gone through several critical areas. I traveled with Ben Libertino and Virgil
Villuenueva by ferry from Pagadian City to Catabo City last year and because we arrived early in the morning, the brethren would not get off the ferry, for fear of the Muslims. Since then bro. Libertino informs me that the path we traveled from Cotobato City to Davao City would be too dangerous for me to travel now. The government may have peace agreements with some of the Muslims, but Muslim rebels are a serious and real threat, disrupting the peace and lives of brethren. Cotobato is one of the hotbeds of muslim rebels. The Philippine Daily Inquiry, June 18, 1999, reports a clash between Soldiers and Rebels in Davao. Six soldiers and six rebels were reported to have been slain. Your charge is false.

You state that communists have never been a threat to people in Mindanao. When I was there June 19-26 I read in Mindanao papers of interviews with communists and of their acknowledged activities in Mindanao. Further, I have word from different preachers as they preach in the "hinterlands" of their contacts with NPAs. Again, your charge is false.

You state that "the part about brethren having to flee is just a lie". The following quote is from Julie D. Notarte, a brother long
respected among Filipinos for his work and truthfulness. "I meet last night with four of the evacuee brethren and certified that they have been displaced and now are living away from their homes. They also affirmed that there were more than 400 who were driven from their home on May 22, 1999 to the present time. They four signed in my presence and was attested by the preacher (Dionesio Tol) of the Dungan Pekong Church of Christ." Your charge is false.

You state: "Some problem with rats and locusts...this was mountain tribals among whom there can be no Christians among the tribals because Christianity is not a native religion." I have signed statements from 29 preachers, whose members number 1,800 or more who state otherwise, Glen. This was hurriedly gathered and I can get 150-200 preachers who will attest to the same truth. The crops of CHRISTIANS were destroyed by rats, locusts and black bugs. Again, you have made another false charge.

You state that "There can be no Christians among the tribals because Christianity is not a native religion. If a tribal is converted, he or she must leave the tribe....I have heard of less than a dozen tribals who have been converted." You make a distinction between "tribal" and "tribe". Filipino brethren do not make that distinction. However, on July 5, 16 preachers from General Santos City traveled to Lake Sebu to determine if the baptisms Ben Asas (leader of the T-boli tribe) claimed to have done were true. Those preachers learned that 404 had been baptized before February, another 600 since then. Ben tells of the baptisms of preachers and says "All baptized preachers they have coming letter for you, ALL IS TRIBAL, T.boli tribes." Again, you made a false charge.

You say "There have been NO death due to starvation in Mindanao in 1999. So again, more lies". I have a list of the NAMES of 78 deaths from November 01, 1998 to June 16, 1999. Twenty are recorded to have occurred from November 01 - December 27, 1998; 58 are recorded to have occurred from January 2 - June 16. That list is signed by 8 preachers who verify the information is correct. These deaths were the result of the lack of food; their lack of food made them susceptible to various diseases, resulting in their death. Again, you made a false charge.

You charged, in that first post "The distribution of money last year by Halbrook and McDonald was the biggest waste of the Lord's money I ever heard of. In Mindanao many call it the Great Motorcycle Benevolence because almost all of the preachers suddenly bought motorcycles after Halbrook and McDonald left." When Ron and I distributed the money last year we repeatedly warned the brethren that benevolence must go to those who were in dire need and that if there was any misuse of it that, if proven, we would be compelled to report that to American brethren, telling that said guilty person was not worthy of support.

Ron and I are ready to do everything we can to investigate any such misuse of funds as you describe, even to the point of going back to the Philippines to clarify the matter. We will do exactly as we warned the brethren from place to place, if upon examination it is proven that the brother did in fact buy a motorcycle with funds given for benevolence. Now, Glen, furnish us a list of the names of the preachers who bought motorcycles with the funds. You say "almost all of the preachers suddenly bought motorcycles" so there should be no difficulty in providing such a list. But, we want documented proof that they took funds intended for benevolence and bought those motorcycles. Your assertions are not enough. We want names and documentations of the proof of their guilt.

There is another list I ask you to provide for me. In late November or early December you wrote to an American brethren charging that I bought cars, vans and jeeps for my favorites among the Filipinos. Cars, vans, jeeps are all plural terms. Please provide me the names of two Filipinos for whom I bought cars; two Filipinos for whom I bought vans; two Filipinos for whom I bought jeeps. And at the same time, please provide the name of your informant.

I herein submit the name and address of Melzarga C. Tacbad, Central Balungao Calumpit Bulacan, 3003. About three years ago you wrote a northeast Arkansas church the following about him "Mel Tacbad. His father was an excellent and very faithful preacher. At times Mel is reported to have been less that completely honest when money was involved. He is reported to have almost allowed a daughter to be raped because the rapist said he could get him regular support." When that church received your report, they asked me about the matter. I told them that the report was a lie; Mel does not have a daughter, he has only a small son. You told them you were mistaken about the charge, but as of last June 23, you had never written brother Tacbad to confess you sinned against him to ask his forgiveness. I am giving you Mel's address so that if you want to do what Christians are supposed to do when they sin against someone, you will be able to write him.

I await two lists from you: the names of all the brethren who bought motorcycles with funds intended for benevolence and the names of six brethren for whom I purchased vehicles.

Sincerely yours,

Jim McDonald

[Editor's note: I wished we had the date of the letter as we don't know how long the displacement lasted.]

[Editor's note: Fascinating as one tracking organization states that there are 3,200 Christians from the T'boli tribe in May 2000]

[Editor's Note: Years later, another Filipino preacher claims that these inflated numbers came from payoffs to tribal people.]