Church people join call: Food, peace in MindaNow!
Church people unite with more than 300 indigenous peoples and peasants from Mindanao in their call for prompt government response to various issues of gross human rights violations in the area.
We are aware that the next frontier for extractive economies, such as mining and plantations, is Mindanao. This is the glaring reason behind the Aquino administration’s decision to pull out military troops from Luzon and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and redeploy them in areas rich in natural mineral resources and fertile agricultural lands.
With 55 battalions, or an estimated 50,000 soldiers, operating in Mindanao, not to mention the paramilitary groups, we fear that human rights violations will continue unabated, or even increase in number. We have had our days of impunity under the Aquino administration.
Many of the victims fell by the hand of suspected state agents, while defending the right to livelihood, land and dwelling. A number of human rights defenders from the church have not been spared—Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio, Bukidnon village chief Jimmy Liguyon, to cite two. Their extrajudicial killings remain unsolved to this day, underscoring the fact that justice continues to be so elusive in our country.
The prevailing economic system worships the god of profit, the mammon. Local and foreign corporations have employed private armies that wreak havoc in our communities. Our government has turned a blind eye to their atrocities, that is, if it’s not conniving with them for kickbacks and paychecks.
We are left with depleted natural resources due to government’s utter disregard for environmental protection and sustainability. We are facing a community of homeless and abandoned victims because of massive displacement, disruption of livelihood and lack of access to education as a result of intense militarization and clearing operations. We are witnesses to the lamentations of the poor, the deprived and the marginalized in their defense of their ancestral domain, life and dignity.
As the Lakbayanis arrive in Manila, we shout in unison with their call: “Food and Peace in MindaNow!” We likewise demand the immediate pullout of military troops.
It is imperative that we make publicly known the human rights situation and the struggles of the Mindanaoan people for genuine development and it is our mandate to denounce evil. Our stand to journey with the poor and lend our voices to their cries is giving flesh to the greatest commandment: to love God and our neighbors. With firm commitment, let us journey with the anawim (the Hebrew word for “poor,” mga mahihirap) whose pursuit of justice and peace is not for their own benefit but for everyone’s.
Promotion of Church People’s Response,
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