National minorities deserve support, not violence
“I know that the Lord maintains the cause of the afflicted, and executes justice on the needy.” (Psalm 140:12)
We, the officers of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, are saddened by the brute force used by the police on the demonstrating national minorities. The back-and-forth ramming of a police mobile car into the ranks of the demonstrators in an attempt to disperse them, just when their activity was drawing to a close, left scores of people hurt; a couple were almost run over.
We support the Philippine National Police’s move relieving nine cops involved in the violent dispersal of the rally as a positive step toward investigating the incident.
October is National Minorities Month. A major activity of this observance is the Lakbayan; this activity culminates with national minorities from all over the country congregating in Metro Manila. This is the only time of the year when they do so, to call the attention of the national capital region to the concerns in their remote communities—among them, “development aggression,” especially the effects of unbridled mining by multinational corporations, which they have been resisting.
Their resistance has been met by the deployment of military troops in their areas, which has resulted in the disruption of their socioeconomic activities. Some of them have even been killed, others have been harassed; and communities have been forced to evacuate. We commend some of our churches who provided sanctuaries to the evacuees and ministered to their needs.
Even as we hope that the investigation into the deadly incident will proceed judiciously, we urge our constituents to discern the message being raised by the national minorities and the reasons they gather in Metro Manila at this time of the year.
We invite one and all to pray that the issues they raise will be addressed by our government. Pray for and support the peace process as it seeks to resolve the issues that have brought unrest upon our land. Pray, too, that the myriad concerns we face in this country shall come to pass in ways edifying to all and pleasing to our God. Pray that God will continue to move our hearts to let love be genuine, so that we will love one another in brotherly and sisterly affection. (Romans, 12: 9-10)
BISHOP RODOLFO A. JUAN, vice chair, LISSA BELLE R. BROWN, vice chair, REV. REX RB REYES JR., general secretary, REYNALDO M. NATIVIDAD, corporate treasurer, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
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