Inter-faith rally for peace, human rights set for June 12
MANILA, Philippines – Current and former lawmakers, Catholic and Protestant leaders, advocates, and concerned citizens will lead an inter-faith rally in Manila on Independence Day, Monday, June 12, to renew the call for peace and respect for human rights.
Signatories of a unity statement – sent to the media on Saturday, June 10 – said they will come together for a National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights at the Andres Bonifacio Shrine in Manila from 3:30 pm to 6 pm.
"Simultaneous actions are expected in various parts of the country," the group said.
The renewed call for peace and human rights in the wake of continued fighting in Marawi City was made "amidst the rising tide of terrorism, martial rule, and impunity that threatens to rip the nation apart," said the group.
In the unity statement, the signatories from different sectors also extended their solidarity to the victims of the Marawi clashes, and condemned the deliberate terrorist acts by the ISIS-inspired Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group.
"We call on all people to come to the aid of thousands of internally displaced persons in Lanao del Sur and nearby areas," the signatories added. (READ: How to help Marawi evacuees through DSWD)
Citing the experience during the dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos, the group said 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," their statement said. "Martial law will further embolden law enforcers and state-sponsored vigilante and para-military groups to commit even more extrajudicial killings and curtail civil and political rights."
"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," the statement added.
"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," it continued. "As the poor suffer, the drug lords, the landgrabbers, big mining corporations, and their protectors in government, continue to get away with their crimes."
The group also united against "the dangers of reimposing the death penalty and lowering of the age of criminal responsibility," saying that with "the weaknesses and failures of our justice system, such measures will most likely further victimize the poor, weak and powerless."
Finally, the signatories called 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)."
"We need to address the roots of the problems – massive poverty, social injustice, corruption, and failure to assert national sovereignty and genuine independence," they said.
"We shall continue to pursue various paths to peace based on justice and the full respect for human rights. It is our hope and prayer that President [Rodrigo] Duterte and all government officials can still listen and change," they continued.
Signatories to the unity statement include:
- Former senators Rene Saguisag, Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr, and Wigberto Tañada
- Party-list representatives Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, Sarah Elago of Kabataan, and Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers
- Former congressman Lorenzo Tañada III and ex-party-list representatives Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño
- Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Archdiocese of Manila
- Rev Fr Rex Reyes Jr, secretary general of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP)
- Members of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (ICM Sisters) and Maryknoll Sisters Parish Work, Inc
- Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan
- Bayan chairperson Carol Araullo and secretary general Renato Reyes Jr
- Gloria Arellano, chairperson of Kadamay
- Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL)
- JL Burgos, brother of Jonas Burgos
- Mae Paner or "Juana Change" and Maria Isabel Lopez
Ex-senator Tañada and Bishop Pabillo were among the petitioners in the 3rd petition filed before the Supreme Court on June 7 to compel Congress to convene in a joint session on martial law in Mindanao. – Rappler.com