Nuns and priests to Duterte: 'Magpo-protesta kami hangga't kailangan'
MANILA, Philippines – Among the crowd full of placards and protesters, nuns and priests clad in their religious garb showed strength in numbers at the rally in Rizal Park on Thursday, September 21.
Coming from different religious orders, they all shouted for the same cause – to stop the spate of killings. If the need arises, members of the Church said they are ready to occupy the streets to continue the call for justice.
Sister Glenda Monroy of the Angelic Sisters of St Paul in Marikina City said she is always ready to protest against the abuses of the current administration.
"Handa ako sa kalsada. Kung kakailanganing lagi ako mag-protesta, gagawin ko. (I am always ready to join the streets. If I need to constantly protest, I'll do it)," she told Rappler.
The Duterte administration has been repeatedly slammed by the Catholic Church as the number of deaths linked to the drug war continues to rise. (READ: Christian churches: 'Stop the killings, Mr President!')
Colegio de San Juan de Letran rector Fr Clarence Marquez OP said his brothers and sisters in the Dominican order will continue to join rallies to remind the President of his obligation to Filipinos.
"Kailangan nating iparating sa pamamagitan ng pagdalo at pakikisama rito para marinig, at sana marinig nga, na maitama ang dapat na maitama dahil binigay natin sa kanya ang boto ng bayan," he said.
(We need to send the message across by attending and joining (rallies) for our voices to be heard, hopefully, to correct what needs to be corrected because he was given the mandate of the people.)
The violent campaign against illegal drugs has already claimed at least 3,500 lives in police operations alone. Various reports by media and rights groups have put the number of drug-related deaths at around 12,000 deaths – including those allegedly killed by vigilantes. (READ: Things to know: Human rights in the Philippines).
Marquez said they will not be deterred and will always fight for the common good.
"Basta para sa katotohanan, para sa katarungan, para sa pagtigil sa kamatayan na walang saysay. (Anything for the truth, for justice, and for an end to senseless killings)," he said.
Address the root causes
Holding placards that read "Rise up! Stop EJKs!" and "Kill no more! Stop the killings!" Marian Missionaries of the Holy Cross (MMHC) priests said they came to the rally to demand an end to the killings.
Father Pio Herrera of the MMHC said the Duterte administration should look at alternative solutions to the drug war instead.
"He chops off what's on the surface and not the root causes of the problem," Herrera said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Critics of the drug war said the administration only "kills the poor." Duterte justified the act by saying the poor is being used by drug lords to sell for them: "There's always a runner as there's always money." (READ: War on drugs, war against the poor)
"If he addresses the problem on livelihood and education, then the poor will not have to be runners or even take drugs," he added.
At the Luneta, several organizations from youth, sectoral, militant, and church groups condemned Duterte's alleged acts of tyranny and the spate of extrajudicial killings in the capital and other parts of the country.
The President declared Thursday a "National Day of Protest" and suspended classes in public schools and work in government offices across the Philippines.
Thousands joined the national protest in various parts of the country to rally support for the government while others marked the 45th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration. (READ: Cops scramble to pin down real numbers in pro-Duterte rally) – Rappler.com