By KIMBERLIE NGABIT QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno called on everyone to unite in prayer against injustice and other forms of evil in a forum as part of the commemoration of the International Day of Human Rights on December 10 in Baguio City.
Sereno said that “to disregard evil that is happening amidst us is to encourage evil”. She called everyone to fight injustice “in all fronts”; from homes to churches and on the streets.
“We must let our voices be heard; we must not let our nation lose its soul,” Sereno said.
Climate of fear
Sereno there is fear among the majority that they will become the victims of violence. She said there is an overwhelming disagreement with the numbers of deaths in the present administration’s “drug war”.
The former magistrate said that it must be emphasized that the public support for the attention being given by the president to the drug problem of the country is not support for the manner it is being conducted nor for its outcome after 30 months of a relentless police campaign. The drug war of Duterte resulted to more than 20, 000 deaths of drug suspects including women and children.
She mentioned there are two things that characterize the manner by which the anti-drug war is being conducted. According to her are its harshness and its injustice. She said because of such characteristics war, she calls it an “unjust war on drugs” and therefore is evil.
Sereno pointed out that the support given to President Rodrigo Duterte’s “drug war” is not for the manner with which it has been implemented or for its outsome.
Disregarding rule of law
According to her, the law has been set aside in the implementation of the anti-illegal drug campaing of the Duterte administration. She said that Oplan Tokhang lacked due process that includes suspicious deaths even during police operations and the questionable drug list among others.
“What is most alarming however, is how this brazen disregard for the law is becoming the norm, not only in the drug war, but also in how corruption and dissent are treated,” she said.
“The corrupt are set free, and those who point out the errors of the President are jailed or threatened,” Sereno added.
The former Chief Justice said the poor, the defenders of the poor and human rights, and advocates of the rule of law are being targeted and subjected to police operations, false charges, arrests, and adverse court decisions.
“If those who are supposed to be protected by the law are its victims, then what else will you call law if not an instrument of injustice? When law becomes the instrument of injustice, what is the recourse of the people?” Sereno said.
Sereno cited the recent acquittal of Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla of plunder as example of how the law is being used against the people. She called Revilla’s acquittal a “legal abomination”. “It is a dagger stroke to the heart of justice,” she said.
She said that indigenous peoples like the Cordillerans have a strong sense of justice. “Like Macliing Dulag, you understand that justice is more than just a piece of paper, more than just the signature of authorities. You understand that justice is a demand from the Creator God Himself,” she said.
Sereno said the Cordilleras testify to a “native sense of justice that honors the land and the community”. She said indigenous people look at land and natural resources as a gift from God.
“You abhor greed and lament the use of native claim against native claim at the behest of commercial interests that wish to exploit your forests and mines. Your people defend your land as connected to your very life line,” Sereno said.
Sereno said that in the Bible and the Cordillera ancestor’s belief; the shedding of innocent blood “curse the land”. She said the Lumads believe that the land will avenge the death of their ancestors and the Bible says that “Abel’s blood cries out from he ground for God’s vengeance”. She added that many biblical passages talk about God withholding favor from a cruel and unjust people who refuse to turn from their wicked ways.
“And it has been so for the last so many months, how we have seen evil at its hard core, our sense of justice being assaulted, as if government and laws exist only for the powerful – who may be corrupt, who may be vengeful, who may be both corrupt and vengeful – “professing” a love for the people but demonstrating no fear of God,” Sereno said. # nordis.net