STATEMENT | Why do we have to pay for AFP modernization?

Nov. 11, 2019

Statement by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. issued on November 9 regarding its inclusion to the military’s list of allegedly front organizations for the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Communities of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato were shaken by series of earthquakes the past few weeks. Victims lined up along the road with placards asking for help. Broadcast and print media aired and published call for help. Social media and other media platform snowballed the solicitations and was responded to by benevolent donors, celebrities and ordinary people who were not affected by the disaster. Yet, no one declared a “state of calamity” and just accepted the fact that it is “force of nature” and some people may suffer.

We are among the less vulnerable sector in this time of disaster yet we are shaken not by the tremors of the earth under our feet but by the “red tagging” of the AFP. MISFI is listed as #7 in the never ending list of Local Terrorist Front organizations.

MISFI is celebrating 35 years of dedicated service to the most vulnerable sectors of society affected by disasters. For the past years, valiant volunteers have contributed their time and effort in the preparedness, response and rehabilitation of people in the communities we served. Donors and international humanitarian aid agencies entrusted funds to our institution for programs that would help people help themselves. Solidarity groups and charitable foundations believe in our vision of a “just and humane society” and help us generate resources for community based socio-economic projects.

The respect we gained from the communities we served and continue to uplift is not imposed but earned through sincere service and empathy by our dedicated staff and community teachers who are now vulnerable to harassment and intimidation because of the “red tagging” by the AFP.

We understand that the AFP need to modernize specially now that we have to defend our territories against those who do not recognize our ownership of the Scarborough Shoal and the West Philippine Sea.

BUT why do the AFP make us pay for their modernization?

With the pressing need to further deliver humanitarian aid in earthquake-ridden communities, why the AFP have the luxury to pursue vilification against us? We call on the Duterte government to stop the attacks against us as it is baseless and futile.

We maintain that serving the poor, upholding humanitarian causes and standing for the environment is not a crime and will never be an act of terror.

In this dark times of tyranny, let us draw inspiration from Pope Francis: “Our common home is being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity. Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin.”

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