Statement of Redemptorists in the Philippines

MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free
John 8:32.

We, the Redemptorist Missionaries in the Philippines are deeply disturbed by the recent developments in our country. We find our bishops, fellow religious, priests and lay workers being charged with sedition and perjury. We have known most of them through their apostolic engagement with the poor, marginalized and abandoned sectors of our society. We firmly believe that they are shepherds tending their flock. They are moved with the mercy and compassion of God even to those dismissed to be mere „collateral damages‟ of the government‟s war on drugs.We hold that they are driven by their genuine love of God and country.

Confronted by this situation and aware of these charges, we ask ourselves: What is the truth in all of these? To be persecuted and maligned, are these the consequences of their firm stance to be witnesses of God‟s love and mercy? Nowadays, it seems that it is dangerous to be a shepherd – to genuinely care for the welfare of the flock and be critical of those who inflict pain on them.
For this reason, we are one with them – the bishops priests, religious, and lay workers. We believe that these charges holds no basis and must be dismissed. We express our solidarity as we continue to place our hope in the poor, “heal the broken-hearted, walk in solidarity with the oppressed, teach justice to their oppressors, and bring back to God all those who have offended Him”.

We continue to prostrate ourselves before God for the truth to come out, free us and embolden us to become living witnesses of His mercy and love. Through the intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we pray for God‟s liberating truth. Amen.

Advertisements

Independent probe on Negros killings

A church official called on Monday for an independent investigation into the spate of killings in the central Philippines. Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the auxiliary of Manila, said the surge of violence in Negros Oriental demands such action to bring justice to the victims.

“Such an investigation cannot be simply left to the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines who have been implicated in the killings,” Pabillo said.

Fifteen civilians were killed by alleged vigilantes in the province last month, following the July 18 ambush of four cops by the communist rebels. On March 30, at least 14 suspected rebels were killed in a supposed clash with security forces, police said, but human rights activists said those who died were farmers.

“A bloodbath is now happening in Negros. This cannot go on. The killings must stop,” Pabillo said. Human rights groups have reported at least 87 killings of unarmed civilians in Negros since the government intensified its anti-insurgency campaign in 2017.The prelate is also leading a signature drive to stop the killings on Negros Island “which we will send to all parties and individuals who can act to stop the carnage”.

Joined by Benedictine nun Mary John Mananzan and former senator Rene Saguisag, the campaign urged Filipinos to be steadfast in upholding human rights and dignity. They also warned President Duterte against inciting the state forces to retaliate against alleged rebel atrocities, saying that this could lead “to even more indiscriminate killings and exacerbate the spiral of killings”.

“We likewise call on all Filipinos to help stop the bloodbath in Negros,” they said. “Together, let us achieve peace and justice through dialogue and the highest respect for human life.” CBCPNEWS

Dengue !

The Philippine government has declared a “national dengue epidemic” following a sharp increase in deaths caused by this virus in the country: since the beginning of the year at least 622 people have lost their lives and on 20 July they were registered at least 146,000 cases, 98% more than in the same period last year. In July, Manila declared a “national alert” against the spread of the virus.

Dengue fever causes flu-like symptoms, including penetrating headaches, muscle and joint pain, fever and rashes all over the body. Of the millions of people infected with dengue every year around the world, around 500,000 develop severe symptoms that require hospitalization.

The Department of Health (DOH) has declared today a national dengue epidemic while cases of mosquito-borne disease continue to increase. DOH data showed that Western Visayas had the most cases. According to DOH, from July 14-20, the authorities registered 10.502 cases of dengue in 14 regions nationally 71% more than the data collected in the same period in 2018.

Two years ago the Philippine government suspended the immunization program among school students following revelations that the Dengvaxia vaccine against dengue did not provide a protective benefit in those who previously had dengue, revelations that came after only 733,000 children had been immunized; about 32 million young Filipinos are under 14 years old.

DOH, along with other government agencies, the LGUs (local government units), schools and municipalities, is already active in eradicating dengue, focusing on research and destruction at mosquito breeding sites. But many said that DOH and Government should have started the campaign, against this mosquitoes, much earlier.

Filippine epidemia di dengue

Il governo delle Filippine ha dichiarato una “epidemia nazionale di dengue” in seguito ad un forte aumento dei morti causati da questo virus nel Paese: dall’inizio dell’anno almeno 622 persone hanno perso la vita e al 20 luglio scorso sono stati registrati almeno 146.000 casi, il 98% in più rispetto allo stesso periodo dell’anno scorso. In luglio Manila aveva dichiarato un “allerta nazionale” a fronte del dilagare del virus.

La febbre dengue provoca sintomi simili a quelli dell’influenza, tra cui mal di testa penetrante, dolori muscolari e articolari, febbre ed eruzioni cutanee su tutto il corpo. Dei milioni di persone infettate con dengue ogni anno in tutto il mondo, circa 500.000 sviluppano sintomi gravi che richiedono il ricovero in ospedale.

Il Dipartimento della Salute (DOH) ha dichiarato un’epidemia nazionale di dengue mentre i casi della malattia trasmessa dalle zanzare continuano ad aumentare.I dati del DOH hanno mostrato che i Visayas occidentali avevano il maggior numero di casi. Secondo DOH, dal solo 14-20 luglio, le autorità hanno registrato 10,502 casi di dengue in 14 regioni a livello nazionale il 71% in più rispetto ai dati raccolti nello stesso periodo nel 2018.

Il DOH, insieme ad altre agenzie governative, le LGU (unità del governo locale), le scuole e i municipi è già attivo per debellare la dengue, concentrandosi sulla ricerca e la distruzione in siti di riproduzione delle zanzare, ma forse doveva farlo molto prima.

Due anni fa il governo filippino aveva sospeso il programma di immunizzazione tra gli studenti delle scuole in seguito alle rivelazioni che il vaccino Dengvaxia non forniva un beneficio protettivo in coloro che hanno avuto precedentemente la dengue, rivelazioni che arrivarono dopo che solo 733.000 bambini erano stati immunizzati; circa 32 milioni sono i giovani filippini sotto i 14 anni.

Il governo processa la chiesa / The government is against the church

Il capo della conferenza episcopale filippina sta mobilitando le parrocchie per pregare per i sacerdoti che potreppero affrontare la reclusione se dovessero essere giudicati colpevoli di sedizione e altre accuse. L’arcivescovo Romulo Valles di Davao non ha dubbi sul fatto che vescovi e sacerdoti accusati siano innocenti, ma hanno bisogno di sostegno nei “giorni difficili a venire”. Ha fatto appello alla preghiera durante le  prossime indagini contro l’arcivescovo Socrate Villegas, ai vescovi Pablo Virgilio David, Honesto Ongtioco, Teodoro Bacani e altri tre sacerdoti.

“Cerchiamo di essere solidali con loro nella preghiera. Invitiamo i nostri sacerdoti, i nostri religiosi, il nostro popolo a unirsi a noi in questa solidarietà nella preghiera ”, ha detto Valles in una lettera alle diocesi. Il capo del CBCP ha chiesto in particolare che le messe del 6 agosto, festa della Trasfigurazione, e del 15 agosto, solennità dell’Assunzione di Maria, siano offerte per questa intenzione.

“Preghiamo per loro, includiamoli nelle nostre omelie, nelle preghiere dei fedeli”, ha detto Valles.

“Affidiamoli alla protezione materna della Madre di Dio, la Madre di Gesù, e  nostra Madre”, ha detto.

I procuratori del governo hanno fissato per il 9 agosto un ascolto preliminare sui casi presentati dalla polizia contro i sacerdoti e diverse altre figure dell’opposizione tra cui la vicepresidente Leni Robredo. Il dipartimento di giustizia ha già convocato tutti gli accusati nelle indagini. L’arcivescovo Valles ha anche invitato i fedeli a pregare per tutti coloro che sono coinvolti “in modo che l’equità, la giustizia e la verità li guidino”.

Il cardinale Luis Antonio Tagle di Manila ha pure rilasciato una preghiera speciale per i leaders della chiesa che sono “perseguitati e falsamente accusati”. La “preghiera per la nazione” deve essere recitata in tutte le messe domenicali a Manila questo agosto.


The head of the Philippine bishops’ conference is mobilizing the parishes to pray for the clergymen who are facing imprisonment should they be found guilty of sedition and other charges. Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao has no doubt that the accused bishops and priests are innocent of the charges but they need support in the “difficult days ahead”. He made the call to prayer in light of the upcoming investigation aimed at Archbishop Socrates Villegas, bishops Pablo Virgilio David, Honesto Ongtioco, Teodoro Bacani, and three other priests.

“Let us be in solidarity with them in prayer. Let us invite our priests, our religious, our people to join us in this solidarity in prayer,” Valles said in a letter to the dioceses. The CBCP head particularly asked that Masses on Aug. 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration, and Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, be offered for their intention.

“Let us pray for them, include them in our reflection and homilies, in the prayers of the faithful,” Valles said.

“Let us also entrust them to the maternal protection of the Mother of God, the Mother of Jesus, and who is our Mother too,” he said.

Government prosecutors have set on Aug. 9 the preliminary probe on the cases filed by the police against the clergymen and several opposition figures including Vice President Leni Robredo. The Justice department has already summoned all the accused to the investigation. Archbishop Valles also invited the faithful to pray for all those involved in the probe “so that fairness, justice and truth will guide them”.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has earlier released a special prayer for the church leaders who are “persecuted and falsely accused”. The “prayer for the nation” is to be recited in all Sunday Masses in Manila this August.

Barche affondate

Tre grosse barche per trasporto passeggeri sono affondate nello Stretto tra Iloilo, isola di Panay e l’isola di Guimaras sabato 3 agosto. 31 persone sono annegate e altre sono disperse.
La polizia ha detto che le operazioni di salvataggio e recupero delle vittime scomparse sono ancora in corso. Le autorità locali hanno dichiarato che gli incidenti sono avvenuti a causa del maltempo.  Indagini sono in corso sulle modalità  e per quale motivo le imbarcazioni sono state autorizzate ad avventurarsi nonostante i tifoni annunciati in questi giorni.

I sopravvissuti hanno raccontato di come il cielo improvvisamente si è oscurato a metà del loro viaggio, seguito dal forte vento e dalla pioggia che hanno colpito le loro barche. Il viaggio tra Iloilo City e Guimaras è sempre stato sicuro, poiché dura  solo circa 20 minuti.

Padayon

Rev.mo P. Brambillasca, in occasione del Mese Missionario Straordinario di Ottobre 2019 il Centro Missionario Diocesano istituisce il Premio Don Andrea Santoro, in memoria del missionario fidei donum della Diocesi di Roma ucciso a Trabzon in Turchia il 5 febbraio 2006, che verrà assegnato a chi nel mondo si è distinto per l’impegno nell’annuncio del Vangelo ad Gentes, nel dialogo tra le religioni e nella promozione umana.

In questa sua prima edizione, il Centro Missionario di Roma ha deciso di assegnare il premio a P. Sebastiano D’Ambra, missionario del PIME nelle Filippine, fondatore del movimento Silsilah per il dialogo interreligioso.

La premiazione avverrà presso l’Aula della Conciliazione del Palazzo Lateranense (Vicariato di Roma, Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano 6/a) sabato 26 ottobre 2019 alle ore 10,30. L’invito a partecipare all’evento è rivolto anzitutto a p. D’Ambra e poi particolarmente anche a Lei e a tutti i missionari del PIME che si trovassero a Roma o nei dintorni. La ringrazio molto a nome del Centro Missionario di Roma per la Sua disponibilità e collaborazione.

Francesca De Martino

Congratulazioni a p. Sebastiano e come dice sempre lui… padayon..

More power to the gun

Oplan Kapanatagan replacing civilian agencies with military has been in place. Former military officials have been appointed in many civilian posts; their offices maximised for surveillance, red tagging, and direct attacks against perceived enemies of the state. The most recent example is the Department of Education’s closure of 55 Lumad schools in Mindanao on the basis of “intelligence reports” that the schools have been teaching rebellion to the children.

In Negros, Philippine National Police has vowed to continue Oplan Sauron, the intensified campaign of PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines against “communist insurgency and now President Rodrigo Duterte may declare martial law in Negros Oriental over the spate of killings in the province. At least 14 persons were killed in Negros Oriental since July 23. The spate of killings started after four policemen were ambushed by suspected New People’s Army in Ayungon town last July 18. On he other side at least 20 civilians, mostly farmers, have been killed with extrajudicial procedures in the past months.

For some Human Rights Organization, like what happened in the Oplan Tokhang war against drugs offenders, the PNP wishes the public to regard as normal the butchering of civilians. The victims in all these killings are not just cold statistics. They have left behind wives, children, mothers, and other loved ones.

The United Nations Human Rights Council’s resolution to investigate the killings in the Philippines is a welcome development. The Philippines, as a signatory to various human rights treaties, could not evade responsibility and must be held accountable. The UN investigation is crucial at this time when victims could no longer rely solely on legal remedies, with their lawyers and other human rights defenders also getting killed. More importantly, how could they expect justice when the chief executive is the one issuing the order to kill?

Pena di morte

Il presidente Rodrigo Duterte nel suo discorso sullo stato della nazione, 22 luglio, ha dichiarato che la sua guerra contro la droga continuerà, perché, lui stesso ha affermato, il problema del traffico e uso della droga rimane invariato. Eppure, tre anni fa, il presidente, allora appena eletto, aveva annunciato che avrebbe risolto il problema della droga in 6 mesi.

Da tempo varie organizzazioni per i diritti umani hanno condannato il modo con cui si fa la guerra alla droga che, invece di risolvere il problema, ha provocato migliaia di uccisioni extragiudiziali. Il grande numero di vittime innocenti di queste uccisioni ha attirato l’attenzione del Consiglio dei diritti umani delle Nazioni Unite (UNHRC), che ha recentemente adottato una risoluzione per indagare la situazione nelle Filippine. Duterte ha già espresso la sua riluttanza a cooperare con l’organismo delle Nazioni Unite e come risposta ha alzato il tono dicendo che introdurrà la pena di morte per reati connessi dalla droga.

La pena di morte, in aggiunta alla sanguinosa guerra alla droga e l’uso della legge marziale dicono di come sia stata inefficace e pericolosa la voglia di risolvere questo problema usando la violenza, e la polizia, invece di percorrere la via della legalità.

In questo clima, parlare di diritti umani nelle Filippine è per il momento rischioso anche perchè molti difensori di questi diritti, non certo drogati, sono stati uccisi negli ultimi tre anni. Ora, non può non emerge una nuova domanda: “Per chi, in realtà, sarà la pena di morte?”

Bikoy and the PNP

By: Randy David

When the series of videos titled “Ang Totoong Narcolist” were first released on social media in April this year, the initial response of the Philippine National Police was neither here nor there. They were obviously caught flat-footed, as surprised as everyone else by the sudden appearance of these shocking videos, which purported to expose the principal protectors of the country’s illegal drug trade. Some of the names mentioned were those of members of President Duterte’s immediate family and close political allies.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo dutifully dismissed the allegations in these videos as nothing but “black propaganda,” labeling the hooded whistleblower who voiced them as a “pawn.” It was from Panelo that the police took their cue. Hence, their first move was to discredit the videos, rather than to find out if there was anything in them worth investigating. Since no one filed a complaint, there was no duty to investigate.

Instead of checking the information in the documents presented even if only in a cursory way, they seemed determined to find out where the videos were coming from. This led them to the website Metrobalita, where the videos allegedly originally appeared. There they found Rodel Jayme, a nerdy-looking young man, and promptly arrested him. The police thought that, as webmaster of the site, he could lead them to the narrator of the videos, the mysterious figure who called himself “Bikoy.”  Jayme cried that he had neither seen this man nor did he know him from Adam.

Following the arrest of Jayme, a man identifying himself as Peter Joemel Advincula visited the main offices of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in Pasig City, seeking legal assistance. He claimed he was Bikoy, the narrator of the controversial videos, and that he had come to get help in filing the appropriate criminal complaint against the individuals he named in the videos.

He told reporters that he had once worked for the country’s biggest drug syndicate based in a luxury hotel in Bicol, where he had a direct acquaintance with the procedure for making regular payments to drug protectors. He showed the list of recipients and documents of bank transfers and other papers. For some reason, his visit to the IBP did not amount to anything.

But, by going public and revealing his true name, Advincula made it easy for the police to track him down. They wasted no time in compiling a profile of the man they had been looking for, a profile that had only one purpose—to impugn his credibility. They dug up his criminal record and came up with the revelation that the hooded character behind the videos was actually a professional fraudster.

This is how Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde depicted him to the media on May 7, barely two weeks before Advincula turned himself to the police: “Mukhang magaling siyang mang-estafa at magaling siyang magsalita. Just imagine being charged for large-scale recruitment. Ibig sabihin, ang dami niyang niloko.”

Albayalde also revealed that Advincula previously served six years in prison for being involved in illegal recruitment. He was supposedly released for good behavior, but that he could be rearrested any time for another case pending before the National Bureau of Investigation. On top of this, once it is proven that Advincula is alias “Bikoy,” Albayalde said he could also be charged with cyberlibel. This was a clear signal that the police were bent on putting Advincula under their custody.

On May 22, 16 days after he unsuccessfully sought help from the IBP, Advincula surrendered to the police, accompanied by relatives who had contacts in the PNP. The following day, May 23, alias “Bikoy” faced the media once more—this time with the top brass of the police behind him. As I noted in a previous column, the Kafkaesque police-sponsored press con was as surreal as the police institution in a benighted society could possibly get. A convicted felon, previously denounced by the police as a professional con artist, was being given full control of the podium to testify against the “plotters” who allegedly hired him.

Glib and self-assured as before, Advincula, alias Bikoy, recanted everything in the videos that he had presented with so much conviction. He said he had been promised payment for his services, but that his conscience bothered him. He claimed that the video project was a brainchild of former senator Antonio Trillanes IV and the Liberal Party. It was produced, he said, at the Jesuit Communications Center in Ateneo de Manila after a series of secret meetings with key leaders of the political opposition, and some priests and prelates. (My brother, Bishop Pablo “Ambo” David of the Diocese of Kalookan, the epicenter of the drug killings, is among those who have been implicated in the complaint recently filed by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.)

The transformation of Peter Joemel Advincula from a supposed whistleblower against drug protectors into a police witness against critics of the Duterte administration is no longer surprising. If we care to look back, we might realize this is the same template that was used against Sen. Leila de Lima, an elected senator of the republic, to send her to jail. Convicted drug criminals, serving time in prison for various drug offenses, were coerced and inveigled to give false testimony against her in exchange for privileges.

Where truth is relativized, he who wields coercive power determines what is true. In that kind of world, there is nothing that cannot be made to look good or bad by a simple redescription.

Scuole tribali chiuse

In Mindanao almeno 55 scuole per scolari tribali sono state escluse dall’esercizio di questo anno scolastico sulla base di una raccomandazione del consigliere per la sicurezza nazionale Hermogenes Esperon Jr., ex capo delle forze armate.

L’ufficio del Dipartimento dell’Educazione Regionale di Davao  ha emesso un ordine, reso pubblico il 13 luglio, sospendendo i permessi delle scuole per operare e il loro riconoscimento come scuole private.

Il motivo di questo ordine è stato un rapporto fatto da Esperon, che è anche vice presidente della Task Force nazionale per porre fine al conflitto armato comunista locale, secondo il quale le lezioni nelle scuole di proprietà non erano in accordo con le linee guida stabilite da DepEd .

Il rapporto si basava su una dichiarazione giurata di un certo Melvin Mansaloan Loyod il 28 dicembre scorso, un insegnante volontariato che ha sostenuto che i moduli di apprendimento utilizzati dalle scuole tribali incoraggiavano i bambini a partecipare a manifestazioni antigovernative, a imparare canzoni del New People’s Army e a recitare rappresentazioni di abusi da parte dei militari, tra cui bambini torturati e donne violentate.

Per varie organizzazioni non governative la chiusura delle scuole senza verificare le accuse di Esperon è un chiaro segno di mostrare la supremazia militare in Mindanao e del rifiuto del governo di ascoltare l’opinione delle organizzazioni tribali.