CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – As we commemorate Philippine Independence Day, the Filipino people continue to face challenges and threats to their rights and freedom as well as to the nation’s sovereignty. The relevance of this day is overshadowed by tyranny, oppression and foreign intervention, declared members of the religious sector in its unified stand on the observance of Independence Day, a copy was sent to Bicol Today in Naga City.
In its message, the Promotion of Christian Response (PCR) said: “Marking such a supposed ‘independence’ only highlights a contrast to the hardships that Filipinos endure under the authoritarian rule of President Rodrigo Duterte. Our people remain enslaved to debt, poverty, crime, and corruption. Our nation is shackled by foreign control and remains a neo-colony.”
Duterte rule described: despotic, no moral ascendancy to lead
PCR, through Bp. Joel Porlares, IFI, continued: “The people’s clamor for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization has been answered with militarization. Political persecution of church people exposes how Duterte intends to wield the despotic power to silence people of faith who advocate for the people’s rights. The inclusion of faith-based human rights defenders and just-peace advocates in his tirades and attacks demonstrates his intent to criminalize and demonize all forms of legitimate dissent against his tyranny and creeping dictatorship.
Duterte’s anti-people, anti-poor, and anti-democratic policies must be opposed. The people must gather their collective strength and build their political power as they continue to struggle for genuine independence and democratic freedoms. Sadly, Duterte’s mockery of our nation’s sovereignty, as well as his caustic remarks, glaring misogyny and divisive demeanour, have made clear that he no longer embodies the moral authority needed to lead us.
Let this Independence Day serve to embolden our commitment to break free from foreign domination to create a genuinely prosperous, peaceful, and the sovereign Philippines.”
The strongly worded Independence Day message was signed by Bp. Joel Porlares, Iglesia Filipino Independiente; Bp. Modesto Villasanta, United Church of Christ in the Philippines; Fr. Gilbert Billena, O.Carm, Rise Up for Life and for Rights; Rev. Dr. Ferdinand Anno, Samahan ng Teolohikal na Edukasyon ng Pilipinas; Deaconess Darlene Caramanzana, Association of Women in Theology; Deaconess Norma Dollaga, Kasimbayan; Rev. Mary Grace Masegman, Co-chairperson, Promotion of Church People’s Response; Rev. Joram Calimutan, Co-chairperson, PCPR-Hong Kong; and Rev. Dwight Dela Torre, Iglesia Filipina Independiente Hong Kong Fellowship.
The Philippines under “capitalist plunder”
The group declared: “Duterte not only maintains a foreign policy of aligning with and upholding US military and economic interests in the country, he additionally opened the country to Chinese imperialist interests to dominate and plunder the country’s natural resources and exploit our domestic market. Duterte offers up our country to foreign control. Our national economy has been opened to capitalist plunder. US and Chinese intrusive agendas will further push the dissolution of patriotic protectionist policies that guard our nation’s sovereignty.”
State fascism and repression
PCR continued: “Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao and his government’s repressive campaigns against people’s organizations and social activists underscore his intended repression of those who struggle for freedom and sovereignty. The poor from urban and rural marginalized communities continue to fall victim to extrajudicial killings and other forms of state-perpetrated threats, harassment, and intimidations. Indigenous peoples, peasants and farmers, labor unionists and workers, and urban poor families who boldly oppose the militarization of their communities and workplaces have also become victims of violations of human rights. Duterte’s repressive campaigns against the people have resulted in greater displacement, more extra-judicial killings, and violations of the people’s fundamental rights.”