Witness in the throes of tyranny

Joint Statement of the Council of Priests and National Priests Organization on Duterte’s Authoritarianism and Warmongering

“The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” -(John 16:33)

As part of our efforts to pursue a just peace, we invite one and all to join us in discerning the signs of the times and the daunting challenges that confront our nation. Allow us to offer you our reflections. We invite you to say a prayer with us.

WARMONGERING

President Duterte’s “war on drugs” continues with massive extrajudicial executions of suspected drug-users and peddlers. His “war against the Left” has now started, yielding to more killings with his government’s ferocious attacks against members of patriotic and people’s organizations. Civilians, too, are fast becoming vulnerable targets of military counter-insurgency operations.

His termination of the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) led to intensified clashes between government troops and revolutionary fighters. The consequent branding of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New Peoples Army (NPA) as terrorist groups has paved the way for the harassments and even the killings of suspected communists supporters who, in reality, are actually legal activists advocating for genuine change.

The President’s warmongering has undermined human rights and allowed impunity to harrowing heights. Without the determination to address the roots of armed conflict and the vision for genuine change, the bloodshed will continue. We denounce Duterte’s recent acts that has only led to graver injustice and inequality in the country.

EMERGING AUTHORITARIANISM

The President’s rhetoric about placing the entire nation under a martial law rule or declaring a so-called “revolutionary government” alarm us. We see his apparent attacks on the judiciary and move for constitutional change as attempts to have full control over the affairs of the government.

With the termination of the peace process with the NDFP and the terrorist tagging of the revolutionary movement in the country, his intention to impose martial law rule in the entire country becomes more apparent. He is merely fishing for reasons to justify its imposition. A dictatorial rule is a looming possibility.

We pity this President who cannot take in dissent and outrightly dismiss such as a destabilization plot. Is it fentanyl-induced paranoia? Or is it a calculated move that will result to a government and a Constitution that will fully bow down to his whims and desires? Neither are sound.

We denounce all attempts to have a full-blown authoritarianism. We oppose all plans to place the nation under a strongman’s iron grip. We will resist all moves that will undermine human rights and legitimate dissent.

CHURCH PERSECUTION

The killing of evangelical pastor Lovelito Quiñones and Roman Catholic priest Fr. Marcelito Paez signals that people of faith are not spared from falling victims of extrajudicial killings. Their brutal killing shows imminent danger ahead for for God’s lowly servants.

We express our dismay over the continuing illegal detention of our own Bishop Carlo Morales over trumped-up charges. We decry the planting of evidence to pin him and his companion, NDFP peace consultant Rommel Salinas. We demand that the fabricated charges against our bishop be dropped and for his case to be concluded expeditiously.

The harassment and killings of people of faith not only reveal the hands of fascism that are working to suppress the Church but also demonstrate the continuing climate of impunity in a country where perpetrators of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations are hailed by the fascist state than punished.

OUR CALL

As the International Human Rights Day approaches, we challenge President Duterte to stop the gross human rights violations, end extrajudicial executions and impunity, and uphold social justice and equality.

We also urge him to resume the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and repeal the terrorist tagging of the CPP-NPA. It is only by addressing the roots of armed conflict can we trule move forward to the healing of our wounded nation.

We enjoin all people to hold President Duterte’s administration to account for gross human rights violations and the promotion of a just peace. Let’s not wait until it is too late.

OUR PRAYER

Sisters and brothers, let us ask God for guidance as we work towards the respect for human dignity and a reign of justice in our society, and so we pray –

Spirit of God,
We have heard your call to share in building the Kingdom of God on earth. Fill our hearts with the burning desire to proclaim your peace amid the hustle of violence in our world. Enflame our passion for justice so we may challenge all forms of tyranny and take the cause of your people burdened by poverty, war, exploitation and persecution. Grant us the courage to witness the Gospel of Christ and live out the mission of the Church in these turbulent times. Enliven us, God’s Spirit, so we may live the Gospel with courage and constancy, boldly accepting the challenge of your call to true freedom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Revd Fr Noel Dacuycuy
Chairperson, Council of Priests

Revd Fr Jonash Johoyoy
Governor General, National Priests Organization

10th December 2017
International Human Rights Day