Honor your parents’
struggle vs. Martial Law through stopping all human rights violations
A Message to PNoy by the
VISAYAS CLERGY DISCERNMENT GROUP
September 21, 2012
On the 40th commemoration of
the declaration of Martial Law, the bishops and priests of the Visayas
Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG) call on President Benigno Aquino III
to meaningfully honor his parents’ struggle against Martial Law,
through stopping human rights violations such as militarization,
demolition and eviction of urban and rural poor communities, summary
killing of media people and environmentalists, and other forms of
human rights abuses.
Our Holy Father Pope
Benedict XVI said, “Those with greater political, technical, or
economic power may not use that power to violate the rights of others
who are less fortunate. Peace is based on respect for the rights of
all” (Pope Benedict XVI, in his Message for World Day of Peace, 1
Despite its insistence on
“daang matuwid”, human rights violations and the impunity of
perpetrators continue to characterize the Aquino government.
Two years into his
presidency, 99 extra-judicial killings have been recorded, 11 enforced
disappearances, 60 frustrated extra-judicial killings, 222 illegal
arrests without detention, 216 illegal arrests with detention, 185
illegal search and seizure, and 7,008 forced eviction/demolition.
The Aquino government also
committed 29,465 acts of forced evacuation, 19,325
threat/harassment/intimidation, 6,721 indiscriminate firing, 45
forced/fake surrender, 296 use of civilians in police and/or military
operations as guides and/or shield, 14,620 use of schools, medical,
religious and other public places for military purposes, 2,099
restriction or violent dispersal of mass actions, public assemblies
and gatherings, among others (Karapatan Quarterly Monitor, 2012).
In Cebu, violent demolition
and eviction of urban poor communities have continued; and more than
30,000 households in Metro Cebu are facing demolition. There are also
farmers’ leaders who have asked helped from Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma
as they are being harassed for asserting genuine agrarian reform.
Fisherfolks in Cordova, Cebu and other areas in the province are being
displaced from their livelihood due to reclamation projects for ports,
golf courses, and others.
We recall the Church’s
social teachings on integral development. In any program for
development or progress, the government must make sure that everyone
affected by it, especially those who don't have the means to have
their voices heard or who can’t defend themselves, is given the chance
to be listened to or consulted. The government should ensure that its
decisions are not biased in favor of those who have more in life, at
the expense of those who have less. Each one's rights should not be
violated in the name of progress.
Yet amidst increasing human
rights violations, we are dismayed with the continuing impunity of
perpetrators. Impunity or exemption from punishment of perpetrators
has become so common that it has become just another matter of
routine. Impunity denies the victims their right to justice and
For example, General Jovito
Palparan, who is facing two charges of kidnapping and serious illegal
detention for allegedly masterminding the 2006 abduction of University
of the Philippines students Karen Empeńo and Sherlyn Cadapan,
continues to elude the law. The late Sec. Jesse Robredo in his talk in
the Cebu Discernment of Public Servants last July 20, 2012, even said
that Palparan can’t be arrested because “may kasabwat sa kapangyarihan.”
Many other government
military officials and personnel accused of perpetrating human rights
violation continue to enjoy impunity under the current dispensation.
We ask the Aquino Government
to denounce Martial Law through doing all it can to stop impunity and
stop all human rights violations.
We also challenge ourselves,
and everyone concerned. To attain lasting peace, all of us must
promote human rights and justice. We are one with Pope Benedict XVI
who said, “Peace for all is the fruit of justice for all, and no one
can shirk this essential task of promoting justice” (Message for World
Day of Peace 2012, Pope Benedict XVI).
As Christ lives,
BISHOP GERARDO ALMINAZA, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro/
Head Convenor of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG)