Sunday, February 22, 2009

Madre ug tulo ka environmental advocates gidakup!



Justice for Sr. Stella Matutina, OSB and environmental advocates!

It is disturbing that Church people are persecuted for their work with the poor and for Creation.

Sr. Stella Matutina of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters and three environmental advocates Maria Fe Matibo, Wenceslao Mapa, and Gil Sentinales were illegally arrested, arbitrarily detained, and harassed by the 67th IB in the Brgy. Hall of Taytayan, Cateel, Davao Oriental last February 16.

They have committed no crimes; they have committed no acts that make them deserve detention and being suspected as rebels. Sr. Stella and her companions were in Taytayan on the invitation of local officials to talk on environmental awareness and protection.

But still, the 67th IB officials insist on doing things their way. They blame officials for not coordinating with them in holding the forum. They have conveyed a "veiled threat" to Sr. Stella that she should have rather stayed in the convent than work in a "critical" area where NPAs thrive. They have raised the specter of "fake nuns" roaming the rural areas "to organize the people and turn them against the government."

What shameless insolence towards human rights, the rule of law, and the mission of the church!

These statements disturbingly show that in the communities, the military rules over the people. It is a culture that has remained with the military since Martial Law. It is a culture that disturbs the peace of the community and tramples upon the rights of individuals. It is a culture that does not tolerate freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom to organize, and for us religious, the freedom to evangelize. It is a culture too that looks at people who serve the poor, marginalized and oppressed with suspicion, derision, and hatred. It is a culture that currently takes the form of Oplan Bantay Laya 2.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is sending out the chilling message that no religious can disrupt their plans of protecting the interests of logging, mining, and big business interests. When shepherds of the flock are themselves the ones under attack, the wolves scatter the flock and make them easy prey. Yes, if they could do it with impunity to Sr. Stella and environmental advocates, they care less about violating the rights of ordinary Filipinos.

Church people, including our members who serve and live with the farmers and Lumads in Mindanao have faced this persecution. Sr. Mary John Dumaug of the Religious Good Shepherd had been harassed for her missionary work with the Banwaon in Agusan del Sur. Mateo Morales, an RGS lay worker also from Agusan del Sur, was killed by Cafgu men in 2006. The convents of the Missionary Sisters of Mary and the Contemplative Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Butuan City were raided by police in November 2006 without any basis at all and without search warrants.

We are afraid that Sr. Stella's case is another example of the Arroyo government's tacit, if not direct, approval of state-sponsored human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and displacements.

It is disheartening that today, while those who stand their ground to protect the environment are being intimidated and killed, the First Family --- Mrs. Arroyo and First Gentleman Mike Arroyo--- is embroiled in mining interests including those in Mt. Diwalwal, Compostela Valley.

Amidst this state of oppression, we remain steadfast to fulfill the mission of the Church which is to assert the dignity and rights of people and the integrity of Creation. We carry this task to care for the environment as "a matter of common and universal duty." (Compendium of Social Doctrine # 466).

As we work to protect the integrity of Creation, we also call for Justice for the people. The Arroyo government must stop militarization in the communities, and stop the plunder of large-scale mining and other aggressive destruction of the environment.

Justice for Sr. Stella Matutia, OSB and environmental advocates!
Stop Military Persecution of Church People!
NO to large-scale Mining and Militarization!
Uphold the Integrity of God's Creation!

For reference:

Sr. Elsa C. Compuesto, MSM
Executive Secretary
Mobile No.: 09174350089

February 19, 2009

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Ipagdasal natin na matanggal na sa puwesto si Gloria

Philippine President Arroyo’s Attendance at National Prayer Breakfast Draws Demand for Human Rights in the Philippines

Contact: Katrina Abarcar, Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines, katarungan@comcast. net

February 5, 2009--Outside the National Prayer Breakfast at the Hilton in the U.S. capital, Filipino-American and American human rights advocates assembled to project the message, “Pray for the victims of injustice and human rights violations in the Philippines.”

The contingent, organized by Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines, targeted their message to President Obama, US lawmakers and global leaders, including Philippine President Arroyo, who attended the breakfast.

“Arroyo’s presence at the Prayer Breakfast gives us the opportunity to call attention to the ongoing problem of military involvement in political killings, abductions, illegal arrests, and harassment of government critics,” said Redante Asuncion-Reed of Katarungan. “I think it’s important that a concerned contingent expose President Arroyo’s brazen unwillingness to seriously address the Philippines’ human rights crisis whenever she makes an official visit to the U.S.”

United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston has specifically criticized the Philippine government’s policy of identifying and neutralizing these fronts, integral to the Arroyo administration’ s counterinsurgency program, for the extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and other human rights abuses. Other independent human rights watchdogs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also published reports documenting these abuses and putting responsibility for them to the Philippine military.

In addition, President Arroyo’s administration has been widely criticized for its failure to convict any military personnel for involvement in the killings and abductions of over 1000 government critics, despite credible evidence. In fact, the President has praised and rewarded one of the most notorious suspects behind the political killings, retired Major General Palparan. He is currently being considered for a post on the Dangerous Drugs Board.

“US Public Law No: 110-161 placed three conditions on a portion of military aid to the Philippines with one of them being the prosecution of those in the military and others responsible for the human rights violations. President Arroyo’s administration failed to meet any of the conditions but still received the full amount of aid in 2008,” explained Katrina Abarcar of Katarungan. “We hope President Obama’s administration will more thoroughly scrutinize President Arroyo’s actions with regards to human rights than the previous administration.”

“In fact as US taxpayers, we believe we should be calling for a complete cut in military aid to the Philippines given its abysmal track record in obtaining justice for the thousands of human rights victims,” added Ms. Abarcar.

“The Philippines received a massive increase in US military aid when President Arroyo gave her unconditional support for former President Bush’s 'War on Terror.' It is pork barrel spending on an international scale that should be cut out,” ended Ms. Abarcar.##