Pope asked to stand with poor for peace and justice
Karapatan welcomed Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines. His messages on the need for the Catholic Church to be among the poor and to stand for the poor and oppressed resonate among us human rights workers, especially as we bear witness to the continuing assault on the rights of the Filipino people under the Aquino regime.
The people’s right to land, decent jobs and living wages, shelter, accessible health and education services are being increasingly violated that no amount of posh welcome rites or overkill security arrangements by the current administration could hide the glaring poverty and injustice in Philippine society, especially amid the corruption scandals that rocked the nation these past years.
When people choose to question or challenge or change this unjust order, they are being threatened, killed, disappeared or detained by the authorities, whose guns and tanks protect the rich, the hacienderos and the powerful. Instead of addressing the roots of the armed conflict through peace negotiations, the government, through the military, suppresses the people’s voices through attacks against civilian communities, affecting the rural poor among the farmers and indigenous people. And thus, the state of unpeace and the narratives of oppression continue.
We ask Pope Francis to hear out the calls of political prisoners and their kin for freedom, and the cries of the relatives of the desaparecidos and the victims of political killings for justice. Theirs are voices that cannot be silenced, even by the most brutal forms of repression. We ask him to also listen to the stories of grave neglect by the government of the pleas of typhoon survivors for food, shelter and livelihood, to look into the plight of the peasants and workers who are most obscenely exploited, and of the modern-day heroes—nay, slaves—known as overseas Filipino workers. We ask him to stand with the poor and oppressed, and to struggle with us for just and lasting peace in our nation.
—CRISTINA PALABAY,secretary general, Karapatan, [email protected]
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