Reject sequel to the dark age
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 supported the declaration at the onset, the resulting bloodbath and the loss of human dignity under President Duterte’s administration is clearly not according to any of the Church’s doctrine.
Under Mr. Duterte’s martial rule, Marawi has been reduced to crumbles, no longer the home Maranao survivors remember. Thousands remain cramped in evacuation centers, uncertain of their future. Individuals accused of being Maute or Islamic State members and supporters have been reported missing. Hundreds of lumad have left their communities amid heightened attacks by state forces and paramilitary elements. In Malaybalay, capital of Bukidnon, 87 families or more than 300 individuals remain in their evacuation camp. At least two children have died from diseases they contracted while encamped. In the Caraga and Davao regions, lumad children have stopped going to school for fear of bombs after the President threatened to target their schools. Forty-seven lumad schools have closed, their leaders and teachers arrested and facing trumped-up charges.
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 the right to have their day in court. The police and the military, by order of their superiors, have become the judges, juries and executioners. Impunity rules under the guaranteed protection of gunmen and perpetrators by those in authority.
This is the brand of Mr. Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao, a reprise of the dark period of peace and human rights.
Forty-five years ago, we faced monochrome screens and watched in fright, as what was perceived as a simple speech resulted in a string of horrific killings, abductions, tortures 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 martial rule under Marcos. 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 that is understandable. Nelson Mandela once said: “Courage is not theabsence of fear, but the triumph over it.” Beyond the fear is the resoluteness of Filipinos. 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 an end to martial law.
AILENE VILLAROSA advocacy program coordinator, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region, firstname.lastname@example.org
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