“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) stands with the Filipino people, the rural and urban poor, in remembering the Marcos dictatorship and in standing against the Duterte martial rule. Even as the Roman Catholic church had supported the president’s declaration at the onset, the resulting bloodbath and the loss of dignity of the human person under President Duterte’s administration is clearly not according to any of the church’s doctrine.
Under Duterte’s martial rule, Marawi has been reduced to crumbles, no longer the home the Meranao survivors remember. Thousands remain cramped in evacuation centers, indefinite of their future. Individuals accused of being Maute or ISIS members and supporters have been reported missing. Hundreds of Lumads have left their communities in the heightened attacks of state forces and paramilitary elements. In Malaybalay Capitol, 87 families or more than three hundred individuals remain in their evacuation camp. Already two children have died from the diseases they contacted while encamped. In Caraga and Southern Mindanao, Lumad children have stopped schooling in fear of bombs that the president threatened to target their schools with. Forty seven Lumad schools have closed. Lumad leaders and teachers of the schools were arrested, trumped-up charges filed against them.
The city streets bleed with the lives of innocents killed under the president’s war on drugs. They were children and teenagers from humble families. Suspected drug addicts and pushers were denied of their right to see a day in court. The police and the military, by order of their superiors in Malacañang, have become the judges, juries and executioners. Impunity rules with the guaranteed protection of gunmen and perpetrators by the highest official of the country.
This is the brand of the Duterte Martial Law in Mindanao. This is a reprise of the dark period of peace and human rights.
Forty-five years ago we faced the monochrome screens and watched in fright as what was perceived as a simple speech would result to a string of horrific killings, abductions, torture and threats. The RMP-NMR, with its religious and lay members, whose principles advocate the interests of the rural poor, stood with other sectors to call for the end of then Marcos martial rule. We marched, we chanted, we appealed for peace to all country-loving citizens. And now, we are called again to stand with the people.
It is true that fear has blanketed many of our communities. But the fear is understandable. Nelson Mandela once said, courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. Beyond the fear is the resoluteness of the Filipino now. We do not want another dictator. We do not want another dark age for our country. We will brave our fear and stand with the people in calling for the end to martial law.
Advocacy Program Coordinator
21 September 2017
(PHOTO above: September 21 national day of protest at Luneta, Manila. Photo credits: Redemptorist Manila)