More than three decades ago, we, Filipinos, toppled a president, who used all means possible to consolidate power and amass wealth. It was a military regime that exploited and oppressed people, a regime of unfettered corruption and fascistic suppression of dissent. The government of Ferdinand E. Marcos, a dictator, was determined to hold on to power for eternity.
Contrary to inaccurate lore that the February 1986 uprising, a People Power “revolution,” was an instantaneous event erupting through a supportive response of the people to a military mutiny against the Marcos government, the truth remains, that uprising would never have been possible without the painstaking work of many, who struggled against the unjust and oppressive system, people who dedicated their lives in educating, organizing and mobilizing the poor and toiling majority.
They came from various groups, from the peasants, the workers, the youth, the artists, the professionals, the church people. All of them worked for meaningful actions against dictatorship and towards the assertion of democracy. They risked their lives: many suffered detention, torture, and separation from loved ones. We owe the victory to those who committed their intellectual gifts, precious time, talents , hard work and material wealth to serve the interest of the poor.
We honor the great testimony of church people in their commitment to follow the commandment of loving their neighbors. Courageously, they offered their faith resources, providing services to the poor and defending the political, social, cultural and economic rights of the people, despite the dangers. We salute their devotion and spirituality, expressed through their participation in the struggle for life with dignity. Identifying with the suffering people, they humbly became one among the poor, being persecuted and oppressed by the dictatorship.
Today, we remember such struggle. We are reminded that the prophetic call to side with the oppressed is still relevant and necessary. The tyrannical attacks against the people, including extra-judicial killings, by the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte have been relentless. Church people, who identify with the struggle and aspirations of the people are persecuted, maligned, and, at times, even murdered. Executive Order 70, also called the Whole of Nation Approach, is simply a weaponized and militarized governance that blatantly violates human rights and the people’s democratic rights.
As we remember People Power and its historic contribution to the journey of our nation towards a more just and democratic society, we call upon the faithful to steadfastly hold-the-grip of mission, ministry and of prophetic work in the struggle for truth, justice, and peace in our land. We denounce the evil of our present realities and proclaim our aspiration: to be a nation that is free from tyranny and foreign domination, a nation that defends its people and the gifts of nature, a nation that values our patrimony and upholds and embraces our identity as Filipinos.
Bishop Reuel NO Marigza, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)
Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB, Missionaries of the Order of Benedictines
Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC, La Salle Brothers
Bishop Rex RB Reyes, Jr., DD, Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines, Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP)
Sr. Ma. Liza Ruedas, DC, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), Daughters of Charity
Bishop Emeritus Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF)