Bishop calls for mass action against killings
‘Stop the Killings’ Network launched
BAGUIO CITY (Sept. 21) — Bishop Carlito Cenzon of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baguio today urged all Filipinos to join a people’s movement to counter-act political killings and seek justice for all victims, in a unity statement read on the occasion of the 34th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.
Bishop Cenzon made the call during the launching of the “The Stop the Killings Network,” a multisectoral group composed of families of victims of political killings, human rights groups, indigenous peoples groups, and individual advocates, held at the Bishop’s House here.
The activity, dubbed as the “Gathering for Peace and Life, Stop the Killings,” was led by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and Hustisya as main convenors.
Cenzon called on the public to “break silence into song and transform fear into a people’s movement.” Reading the Network’s unity statement, he said that in so doing, “today’s crisis be a tomorrow’s masterpiece created by our unity and solidarity.”
Cenzon joined hands with Bishop Renato Abibico of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon and other Protestant bishops, lawyers, a city councilor, a media representative, and other leaders in clamoring for justice and more vigilance against the killings.
Other participants came from labor, peasant, urban poor, youth, women, church, media and other sectors from Baguio, Abra, Kalinga, Benguet, Mt. Province, Isabela and Ilocos region.
Hustisya, as one of the network convenors, was itself was launched on Sept. 15 in Manila as the national alliance of families of victims of political killings during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Its regional chapter was launched on Sept. 14 at the Resurrection Cathedral here.
Regional Hustisya convenor Albina Terredano, wife of slain peasant organizer Albert Terredano, said that accepting the death of their kin is never easy. She challenged the government and asked the public’s help in seeking justice for their dead loved ones.
In a statement, the CPA declared that “we resist the Martial Law of the Arroyo Regime,” as it was 34 years since Marcos’ dictatorship, where the victims of political killings are left with injustice. Under GMA, the CPA statement added, there have been 753 victims of political killings; 96 of these are indigenous peoples.
CPA Secretary General Windel Bolinget said that the 34th martial law commemoration is also an international day of action against political killings in the Philippines.
‘Even small actions help’
Echoing Bishop Cenzon’s call, CHRA vice chair Beverly Longid called on everyone to do even seemingly small actions to resist the killings.
“We can refuse violations of our rights, initiate protests against abuses. We can offer our homes, our churches as sanctuaries for the persecuted. If we have a way with words or the media, we can write about what is happening; a talent for music, we can compose songs of freedom. We should always speak the truth,” Longid said.
Other sectoral representatives in the gathering made their respective symbolic offerings.
Baguio City Cuncilor Perlita Chan-Rondez offered to the Network the newly signed Resolution No. 161-2006 that condemns the killing of Markus Bangit, Kalinga tribal leader and head of the CPA elders’ desk.
Representing the health sector and the medical advocacy group CHESTCORE, Dr. Cyril Abalos also gave commitment to the network. He condemned the July 31 Tabuk ambush, which wounded Dr. Constancio “Chandu” Claver and killed his wife Alyce.
Desiree Caluza and Elina Ramo of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) offered a feather pen and pencil to symbolize the journalists’ responsibility to inform the people of the truth, and flowers to remind people of “the beauty, frailty and subtlety of life, and how precious it is.”
Other organizations offered symbols, poems, video presentations and solidarity messages.
As the gathering ended, the participants marched towards Session Road with lighted torches and streamers, and concluded with a short program at the Igorot Garden.
John Panem of the CPA Youth Commission said such commemorative gatherings are important for today’s youth “to remember the darkness of yesterday and today and be vigilant against it so people can provide a brighter tomorrow for future generations.” # Pink-Jean Melegrito with reports from Michael Julius P. Rubio for NORDIS