Today, the use of sanctuary is more popularly attributed to tourists, birds, butterflies or elephants. Sanctuary basically means a place where one can be safe. The church represents itself as a sanctuary for lost souls, it is also traditionally respected all over as a sanctuary in times of strife.
During Martial law in the 70′s, some student activists pursued by state security forces took refuge in churches. In the early 80s, was the bombing of an area in Tubo, Abra that forced village residents to evacuate, hide and hike for days to Besao and Sagada, Mt. Province.
The proximity, and warning from of the armed forces command made it prudent for the local press not to go to Abra. But Sagada? their second home, off went the press, into a case of internal refugees who took sanctuary in the parish of the outspoken Rev. Fr. Edwardo Solang.
The displaced villagers told of watching bombs drop from a ‘tora-tora’ (reminiscent of the small Japanese planes of WWII). The burned forest and homes, big holes on the ground, a dead carabao, a killed pregnant woman. These stories hit the international press. In reaction, checkpoints of armoured vehicles, military camps and arrogant officers; were set-up along the roads.
Independent investigations further drew focus to the militarized situation in the Cordilllera, to the fight against the Chico dam and Cellophil logging. For the same reasons that the Cordillera was militarized then, appears to be the same reasons it is further being militarized today.
With the claim that lessons learned from the some four decades of waging an “anti-insurgency war” and the admission that they are guided by the western low intensity conflict operations. The renamed Oplan Bayanihan (originally called Oplan Bantay Laya II), under the present dispensation, is doubly unleashed against the same enemies only the state security can terrorize – the village civilian populations.
According to wikipedia, under martial law “human rights groups place the number of victims of extrajudicial killings at 1500; 759 involuntarily disappeared (their bodies never found) and victims of arbitrary arrest and detention at 120,000.”
From January 2001 to October 2009, Karapatan documented 1,206 cases of extrajudicial killings, 204 enforced disappearances and 1,026 victims of torture.
From 1 July 2010, recorded human rights violations show: 22 killed, 2 missing; 10 frustrated murders; 28 illegal arrests; 24 illegal detention; 10 torture cases; and 754 victims of forced evacuation. In the Cordillera and other regions of Northern Luzon these numbers continue to grow as validated reports come in notably from areas pointed to be within big mining applications.
This human rights data only shows the continuing climate of impunity under this dispensation. In a little more than a month will mark the president’s first year, is this his brand of a “straight path”? Drawn alongside the path of five regimes before him?
Where shall the ordinary Filipino, seek refuge from the political quagmire and economic calamities along this so-called straight path? The Church is not enough sanctuary, (all be it temporary) to the growing number of victims and refugees in this long running state imposed disaster. Punishment can only embolden a people to seek sanctuary in their courage to liberate human dignity and their community. Get answers. Ask questions! # nordis.net