By JUSTICE AND PEACE ADVOCATES IN IFUGAO (JPIA)
The Justice and Peace Advocates in Ifugao (JPAI) express grave concerns of the escalating attacks against the religious sector, and unfathomable assaults on democracy and human rights. While we listen to the people’s cries, we are troubled with the national policies of ‘Martial Law’ in Mindanao, ‘All Out War’, and the ‘War against Drugs’ which has unleashed unabated violence encouraged by no less, President Rodrigo Duterte.
Our government unabashedly marches head strong into a direction of madness by continually pushing for the death penalty, reducing the age of criminal liability, and disregards the State’s obligation to protect and uphold international human rights which emboldens state security forces to commit human rights violations with impunity. The President prefers punitive action rather than restorative justice that respects the sanctity of life.
Life as we know it is God’s gift. To attack life, is an attack on our spirituality and our moral fiber. The church and its’ people are the defenders of life which is why we are raising the concern on the culture of impunity. We are angered that 3 Catholic priests were killed since December 2017. Among the priests murdered are Fr. Marcelito Paez who actively supported the poor peasants in Nueva Ecija at the age of 72, Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura who cared deeply about God’s creation and protected the environment until his dying breath at the age of 37, and Fr. Richmond Nilo who was the latest priest murdered at the age of 43.
We are puzzled as to why religious leaders are attacked when they bring light and comfort to the people with moral and spiritual guidance and care. Just recently 3 United Methodist missionaries, Adam Shaw of the United States, Miracle Osman of Malawi, and Tawanda Chandiwana of Zimbawe were harassed by the our government for attending an international solidarity mission to learn about the plight of the Filipino people. Chandiwana was detained since May 9 and was placed on a “watchlist” of suspected subversives. While Australian Catholic missionary Sister Patricia Fox was also subjected to embarrassing treatment when she was detained by the Bureau of Immigration and then questioned for supporting indigenous peoples, workers and farmers and labeled an undesirable alien for doing so.
We are also alarmed that two Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) priests, Fr. Randy manicap Sr., and Rev Fr. Arvin Mangrubang based in Ilocos Norte have been receiving death threats and have been followed on numerous occasions. Fr. Mangrubang is also included in the Philippine Army’s order of battle. Furthermore, Bishop Carlo Morales has been detained without a warrant of arrest last May 11 and accused of being in the company of a rebel.
In Ifugao, the JPAI also condemned the black prop fliers listing indigenous Peoples, peasant, and women organizations and individuals as terrorists on April 21 and April 24 during the opening of the Kulpi ad Lagawe and the recent black prop posters pasted in the jeepney terminals of Lagawe and Banaue with malicious content vilifying leaders of people’s organizations and development workers therefore putting their security at risk.
We believe in peaceful resolutions and peaceful means and oppose the trend of rising fascism by a tyrannical ruler. We encourage healthy dialogue when disagreements arise. Despite these trying times, we must unite our people amidst their pain, suffering, and insecurity against persecution and injustices. We demand a stop to the killings. We call on the accountability of our government and for sobriety. We invite all Ifugaos to intensify our prayers, unite in solidarity and speak out amidst this dangerous and troubling time.# nordis.net