Statements: On the observance of the International Human Rights Day


December 10, 2017
In celebration of the International Day for Human Rights this December 10, 2017, the Justice and Peace Advocates in Ifugao (JPAI) – a broad group of advocates for peace based on justice, respect of human rights and Indigenous Peoples rights, and for the protection of the environment consisting of Church people, professionals, and basic sectors in Ifugao stands with the whole nation in calling for upholding human rights of the people.

We are alarmed and we condemn the continuing impunity in our nation on the rising cases of extra judicial killings (EJK) of suspected illegal drug offenders, EJK and political persecution on political activists, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, environmentalists, and even church people as what has happened to Fr. Marcelito Paez of Nueva Ecija – coordinator of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Central Luzon – who was shot dead after helping a political prisoner, Pastor Lovelito Quinones of the King’s Glory Ministry who was also shot dead by state security forces in Oriental Mindoro, Bishop Sergio Utleg of the Diosese of Tuguegarao was also tagged as enemies of the state for his active role as an observer and advocate of the peace talks between the government and the rebels.

The JPAI sheds light on the current issues blanketing our nation in darkness. Just as Jesus was persecuted by the Romans, many who follow in his footsteps are also persecuted by the State. We should remember that Jesus Christ calls people of faith to stand in solidarity with the poor and oppressed. This faithful advocacy of the Christian gospel neither makes human rights defenders enemies of the State.

From a faith perspective, In Genesis 1:26-27-humans are created in God’s image.  When rights are denied and violated, the divine image within man is violated and the dignity that confers is diminished.

The JPAI calls on Ifugaos and the whole nation to pray persistently for and maintain continual vigilance against signs of abuse of power and authority.  Let us remember to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ among and for the poor that God’s children shall live and work for peace and justice.  We call for a change in the culture of impunity in the Philippines, where human rights defenders are subjected to harassment, trumped up charges, disappearances, and killings while the perpetrators are not held accountable. 

We call on the government to respect Indigenous People’s Rights to Land, Life, and Resources as gifted by our heavenly Father and nourished over generations by our ancestors.

Filipino Christians constitute a great majority of our country; therefore we have a huge responsibility for building a peaceful and just Philippine society. We should adhere to the values of the good news of Jesus. The opportunity to change is never lost in every person. This is because God is merciful. Those who abuse their power should remember that to destroy life of another is a grave sin and does evil to society. #


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