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‘A monstrous violation of what is decent, upright and just’

01:11 AM April 09, 2016

“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord.” (Psalm 130:1b)

Nights are neither quiet nor peaceful for the hungry and the poor. When they cry out for food, they are also crying out for justice. The poor in our midst remind us that God’s abundant life is still a promise to be fulfilled. And when farmers are left without adequate sustenance and are pushed to the brink of starvation, injustice prevails.

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It is never a sin when poor farmers demand food, but it is a sin to deny them food. And when the might of bullets and guns are used against the poor in their rightful demand for basic needs, a monstrous violation of what is decent, upright and just is committed.

Three people died in their simple plea for “bread”; entire communities of men, women and children ache in hunger, mourning and desolation after their cry for food was answered with bullets. Theirs was a simple prayer: rice for their families.

The flagrant and vicious use of live munitions to disperse the poor farmers on April 1, 2016, was abominable, condemnable. Nothing can justify this murderous and terror-inducing act of some members of the Philippine National Police.

Likewise, the church asserts not only its right to protect the vulnerable ones; it is an imperative of our faith to care for the weak and the poor, especially during crucial moments when they are being bullied by the powerful and the mighty.

By offering our sanctuary, we are not just being hospitable to our farmers and hungry ones; we are making them one among us. When we welcome them in our “home,” our sanctuary, we do not only give our best, but we share with them deep kinship. By offering them our sanctuary, we recognize their sufferings and hopes, their struggles and aspirations.

We are humbled by the capacity of the poor to claim their rights and defend their dignity. They have no “connections” in the corridors of power, but they never give up hope.

We are thankful to the people’s organizations, institutions and ecumenical community here and abroad that expressed their solidarity. Our prayer is that you will keep us in your thoughts and that you will stand with the poor farmers until they have seen the fulfillment of their aspirations. The church can only fulfill its mission as long as it stands with the poor and side with justice.

We call on our church members. Let this response of our church to give sanctuary to the poor strengthen our unity. We must not let the enemies of life divide us, but let the peace that is built on compassion and understanding lead us to where our hearts should be—justice, peace and truth.

—BISHOP CIRIACO Q. FRANCISCO, resident bishop, Davao Episcopal Area; BISHOP RODOLFO A. JUAN, resident bishop, Manila Episcopal Area;  BISHOP PEDRO M. TORIO JR., resident bishop, Baguio Episcopal Area

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TAGS: food, hunger, justice, Kidapawan farmers, Protest, violent dispersal
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