DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Groups from various sectors and organizations are set to join hands in a nationwide prayer and call for action set on June 12, Independence Day.
Dubbed as “National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights”, the activity will be joined by legislators, religious leaders, human rights activists and concerned citizens.
In a statement to the media here, former Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño, one of the convenors of the upcoming event said simultaneous actions are also expected in various parts of the country.
“In Manila, a big inter-faith prayer and rally will be held at the Andres Bonifacio Shrine beside the Manila City Hall from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m.,” he said.
Participants to the nationwide call for prayer and action also issued a Unity Statement on Saturday, June 10.
“On June 12, Independence Day, we, concerned Filipinos from various faiths, sectors and political affiliations, will come together in a day of prayer and action to renew the call for peace and respect for human rights amidst the rising tide of terrorism, martial rule and impunity that threatens to rip the nation apart,” the statement said.
The group is also extending its solidarity to the victims of the Marawi siege and condemned what they called “the deliberate acts of terror by the ISIS-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.”
They also asked the Filipino people to support the efforts to provide aid to the thousands of evacuees who are now sheltered in various evacuation centers and to their relatives towns and provinces nationwide.
ML not an answer to Mindanao situation
The group also expressed their opposition to the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law last May 23 and subsequently issued General Order No. 1 that set the guidelines for its implementation.
Two weeks after the declaration, Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana already issued two arrest orders against more than 300 individuals believed to be connected with the Maute Group, Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Maguid Group.
Lorenzana is the administrator of martial law declaration in Mindanao as defined in G.O. No. 1.
“As the Marcos dictatorship showed, martial law is not the answer to the complex problems of Mindanao. A regime that trades Filipinos’ human rights for vague, ever moving law and order goals can only add fuel to armed rebellions and set back efforts to address the roots of the conflict. Martial law will further embolden law enforcers and state-sponsored vigilante and paramilitary groups to commit even more extrajudicial killings and curtail civil and political rights,” the group further stated.
They also called on the government to end the aerial bombardment of Marawi and other conflict areas in the country.
“In the last year, atrocities have mounted nationwide. Filipinos are right to protest the murders of thousands in the drug war, as well as the extrajudicial killing of suspected rebels, ordinary farmers, indigenous peoples and Moro people in the counterinsurgency war. It is the poor that bear the brunt of these wars. It is the poor that are killed. It is their rights that are violated. It is their communities that are subject to aerial bombings and abuses during military and police operations,” the group added.
They also emphasized that drug lords, landgrabbers, big mining corporations, and their protectors in government, continue to get away with their crimes at the expense of the suffering of the millions of poor Filipino families.
The group will also ventilate their continued opposition to the reimposition of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility.
“Given the weaknesses and failures of our justice system, such measures will most likely further victimize the poor, weak and powerless,” the statement said.
Drug abuse, criminality, social unrest, and rebellion, they added, “are but symptoms of deep-seated, historical problems that cannot be solved by wars against the poor or the imposition of martial law.”
They pointed out that the roots of the problems such as massive poverty, social injustice, corruption and failure to assert national sovereignty and genuine independence must be addressed.
The group will also call for the continuation of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“Only by mutually addressing the roots of the armed conflicts can all parties hope to forge a just and lasting peace for our people,” the group said, adding that they will “continue to pursue various paths to peace based on justice and the full respect for human rights.”
They also hope and pray that President Duterte and all government officials will listen to their call and change.
Signatories to the Unity Statement include former Senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada, together with the members of the Makabayan Bloc in Congress.
Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and National Council of Churches of the Philippines Secretary General Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr. also signed the statement. (davaotoday.com)