We, Roman Catholic bishops and clergy of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group are saddened that remnants of the Martial Law are still witnessed today, 39 years after its declaration, and 30 years after it was “lifted.”
Thirty-nine years ago, the Marcos dictatorship jam-packed jails with political prisoners who fought against corruption and repression. Priests, religious, lay leaders and opposition groups were illegally arrested and detained on trumped up grounds. Many of them were summarily executed and tortured.
Until today, the perpetrators of Martial Law have not been punished and the victims have not attained justice. The great bulk of them have never received the “compensation” for the victims.
Most comdemnable of all is that today, some practices of Martial Law continue behind the cloak of “restored democracy, justice and protection of human rights”.
Fr. Cecilio Lucero, a Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Catarman and a human rights advocate, was murdered by suspected military men last September 6, 2009 but until today, perpetrators remain scot-free.
Presently, according to human rights organizations, there are 360 political prisoners nationwide languishing in jails due to the exercise of their political beliefs. Moreover, it is reported that there are already 77 political prisoners illegally arrested and are currently detained under the Aquino administration.
In Mindanao, the military campaigns of the Aquino government have reportedly resulted to about 90 cases of human rights abuses and victimized close to a thousand families or more than 8,000 individuals in his first 80 days of power.
In Cebu recently, criminal charges were filed in court against 36 Aloguinsan farmers including three students from the University of the Philippines who were arrested for trying to prevent the fencing of a land farmers have tilled since 1910. The farmers said they were kicked, punched, whipped with truncheons by the police at the height of their protest in Aloguinsan, Cebu on August 29, 2011.
Libel cases have been filed against Visayan Electric Company (VECO) Employees Union President Casmero Mahilum, who was pursuing the union’s interest. His termination from work was declared legal by the National Labor Relations Commission.
The Catholic Church is committed to the promotion of human rights as its pastoral commitment is developed in a twofold direction: in the proclamation of the Christian foundations of human rights and in the denunciation of the violations of these rights (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, # 388).
In line with such teaching of the Church, we remind President Benigno Aquino III, all government institutions under him, and all advocates of democracy, that the path to peace is through the fulfillment of justice, and not through the militarist method. As P-Noy’s father was a victim of the tyrannical rule of Marcos and as his mother is hailed internationally as an icon of democracy, it is a great challenge for him and the government to stop all human rights violations, punish the human rights violators and address the roots of the armed conflict through the attainment of social justice.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, D.D.
Visayas Clergy Discernment Group
Tel. No. (033) 3291625
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza
Msgr. Walter Cerbito
Msgr. Cayetano Gelbolingo
Msgr. Rommel Kintanar
Fr. Julius Heruela
Fr. Aniceto Buenafe, Jr.
Fr. Paul Medina, O.Carm
Fr. Edgardo Deligero
Fr. Desiderio Magdoza
Fr. Scipio Deligero
Fr. Antonio Bayod, MSC