We, the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, express our support to Sr. Elenita Belardo, RGS, 80, the former National Coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, the oldest Mission Partner of AMRSP. Likewise, we decry the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office for issuing a warrant of arrest against her for perjury.
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines has been active in the advocacy of land reform and rights of the farmers. For 50 years, RMP was able to expand its ranks of rural missionaries all over the country, and fulfill its mandate of serving the rural poor. During Sr. Elen’s term as National Coordinator, massive human rights violations, land grabbing, and other farmers and indigenous people’s rights violations were committed. Faithful to its mandate, RMP assisted the communities affected by conducting programs, calling to stop bombings and militarization of rural communities, documenting human rights violations and submitting them to various platforms, and providing venues for them to share the realities on the grounds, especially among the religious and clergy.
Sr. Elen is charged with perjury by the National Security Adviser, Hermogenes Esperon, Jr, after the dismissal of the petition of RMP’s petition for Writ of Amparo and habeas data, together with other cause-oriented organizations which are being “red-tagged” by the AFP.
We are saddened by this blatant act of harassment against Sr. Elen, whose only intention even at her old age is to fulfill RMP’s mission and mandate to bring Christ’s presence to the rural poor, though she might have some imperfections, human as she is.
The government should pay more attention to the pressing issues like rampant human rights violations and other atrocities being committed against our farmers and indigenous peoples in the countryside and be more considerate to old people. By this we shall know that our government knows its priorities. Reflect on God’s words:
Let the judges… investigate it thoroughly, if the witness is a false witness and has falsely accused the other (Deut. 19:18).
Do you think you can steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, sacrifice to Baal, follow other gods that you do not know, and then come and stand in my presence in this house, which bears my name, and say: “We are safe! We can commit all these abominations again!”? (Jer. 7:9-10)
We call on our fellow consecrated women and men, our mission partners, and the entire people of God to pray for the safety and well-being of Sr. Elen and all who defend the rights of the poor.
As prophets of our times, let us continue to speak out to establish the reign of God where there is justice, peace, security, love and charity.
Fr. Cielito Almazan, OFM
Sr. Marilyn Java, RC
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