“For He delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.” This quotation from Psalm 72, a psalm outlining the qualities of a “righteous” leader, sums up the call of the 72 “Manilakbayan” representatives from Mindanao who are now in Manila.
Among them are family and friends of Juvy Capion and her two children, Jenesis Ambason, Jimmy Liguyon, Arpe Lapugotan, Gilbert Paborada, Rudy Dejos and his son Roderick—some of the 26 lumad who were killed because they dared to defend their ancestral lands and Mother Nature against big mining companies and plantations.
Thirty-four Mindanaoans have been killed since June 2010 for their steadfast defense of the land, environment and people’s livelihood. They include our own Fr. Fausto Tentorio.
We support Manilakbayan’s petition—Stop the killing of indigenous peoples! We join their call for President Aquino to consider the victims’ blood “precious in his sight” and order the arrest and punishment of those responsible for their deaths.
We share the dismay of Edith Burgos, mother of disappeared Jonas Burgos, at the promotion of Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año. We are wary of the Special Development Defense Forces and the plan for the Army to take charge of the antilogging campaign in the Caraga Region; these very forces are the ones behind the killing of those opposing logging, mining and so-called “development projects.”
Which just shows Mr. Aquino’s lack of political will to put an end to the “culture of impunity.” Without political will, the newly created superhuman rights body will just be another cover-up for government inactions.
The 34 Mindanaoans are among the 129 victims of extrajudicial killings during P-Noy’s presidency.
Also on the list of human rights abuse victims are 12 disappeared, 401 political prisoners, and the more than 30,000 evacuees, mostly peasants and indigenous peoples of Mindanao and Southern Luzon, who were forced to leave their homes by bombings and military operations. As church people, we find this unacceptable, and this must be condemned.
We commend those taking part in the Manilakbayan for their courage to face the President and government agencies mandated to protect the environment; the members of the various embassies promoting antipeople and antienvironment projects; as well as the justice and defense departments that are supposed to protect them and give them justice.
Justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings! Surface the disappeared! Release all political prisoners!
Scrap antipeople, antienvironment laws, such as the Mining Act of 1995!
President Aquino said he would take the “righteous path.” Psalm 72 is the guide for him. Only when the just demands of the people are met and their blood considered more precious than dollars, will he be able to claim legitimacy as President.
Another Human Rights Day (Dec. 10) has passed. The time for him, as a “righteous” leader, to reclaim the “righteous path” is long past.
—SR. PATRICIA FOX, NDS,