Mindanao Nuns Still at It, Condemn ‘Repression’ vs Church Workers

Nov. 12, 2006

Catholic nuns in Mindanao have not stopped denouncing the police and the Arroyo regime for the “repression” of Church workers. In statements issued last week, nuns from the Missionary of Sisters of Mary, which was the target of the Nov. 1 police raid in Butuan City, and the Religious of the Good Shepherd urged authorities to respect human rights.

Km. 4, Baan, Butuan City

We, the Missionary Sisters of Mary raise our voice to denounce the police operation conducted by the PNP Caraga led by Col. Wilfredo Reyes in the premises of the MSM Central House, Km. 4, Baan, Butuan City; San Lorenzo Ruiz Formation Pastoral Center (SLRFPC) administered by the MSM and the Contemplatives of the Good Shepherd (CGS) in Ampayon, Butuan City. The incident happened on the night of November 1, 2006.

The police operation was illegal and in complete disregard of the basic rights of the Sisters. The search conducted at CGS convent was unlawful since it was carried out without search warrant. The warrant of arrest hoisted by PNP Team led by Col. Reyes could not have been validly used to undertake the search at the CGS where the person subject of the warrant was not even a resident or member of the religious community. The operation also violated the Sisters rights to personal security and safety as well as to privacy.

The Missionary Sisters of Mary experienced three counts illegal raid and harassments because of identified mistaken elements charged to be in our sanctuary. The first was in June 1, 1988 at the MSM Convent, Labangon, Cebu City; 2nd in September 6, 2004 at the MSM Convent, Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte; 3rd, in November 1, 2006 incident in the MSM Central House, Baan and MSM Convent at SLFPC compound, Ampayon, Butuan City. It was conducted in the guise of looking for somebody, seemingly implicating us with the insurgents. We view this act as a form of harassment against religious sectors and an expression of church repression

We refute the statement of Col. Nanas that the said police operation was a protection of the Sisters because of the terrorist in the area. In the first place, the Sisters did not request such security, in fact, the intrusion of the police elements into their abode is a blatant transgression of their rights to privacy and solitude.

This is an attack on the Church in Caraga region. Many were already killed through OPLAN Bantay Laya, many lives have already been sacrificed. This is another face of church suppression.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in its Pastoral exhortation for the Year of Social Concerns pronounced the commitment of the Church as : with love the church builds up by prophetically critiquing and denouncing injustice and by prompting positive activity that will promote a society befitting mankind because it befits Christ. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 8, 63). Thus, we strongly denounce the repeated violence against those who are seeking for the truth and justice and working for the poor. We would like to register our demand to the government authorities and the Philippine National Police of Butuan City to rectify such a mistake. UPHOLD THE LAW AND RESPECT HUMAN RIGHTS! STOP CHURCH REPRESSION!

Joint Statement

We, the Missionary Sisters of Mary (MSM) and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd of the Diocese of Butuan, strongly condemn the recent raid of our convents, which is a manifestation of church repression. This was done by the Philippine National Police- Butuan City led by Col. Wilfredo Reyes, on the evening of November 1, 2006.

As part of the local church, it is our moral duty to denounce when sin is present, the sin of injustice and violence that in different ways moves through society and is embodied in it. (Compendium of Social Doctrine, CSD,81)

The raid conducted was unlawful in the sense that it does not present a search warrant and is done in an unholy hour. The psychological effect created to the well- being of the Sisters, is a form of harassment. The suspicion of the military, that the insurgents are taking refuge in the Sisters Convent is not a valid ground to conduct a raid. If they were able to make an intrusion into the privacy of the Sisters Convent, how much more to the shanties of the poor vulnerable people?

The right of entry to a private place should not be invoked in the pretext of looking for suspected elements. Why made the search in the evening? And whose rights are they protecting? Is their actions moral? Let us not trample each others rights!

We reiterate our CALL for the public to UNITE, RESPECT and BE VIGILANT in upholding the rights of individual, be critical and well- informed of what is going on in our country.

We demand that our government officials will investigate the unsolved killings and other forms of human rights violations.






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