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‘Kalbaryo’ urges peace, end to poverty

20 April 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

There is no peace where poverty is widespread, where farmers don’t own the land they till, and where workers have no job security. There is no peace, too, if environmental destruction and violation of human rights continue.

In solemn Lenten fashion, about 100 progressive members of the Filipino community and their Hong Kong supporters ushered in the Holy Week on Apr 9 with a four-stage Station of the Cross in Central that highlighted the basic problems of Philippine society.

The procession, which began at HSBC and ended outside Alexandra House, was organized by the Promotion of Church People’s Response led by Father Dwight de la Torre of the Philippine Independent Catholic Church and Pastor Joram Calimutan.

“Ang Kalbaryo  ng Sambayanang Pilipino, Kalbaryo ng Migranteng Pilipino ay taunang paggunita sa buhay, ministeryo, kamatayan at pagkabuhay na mag-uli ni Jesus sa konsteksto ng bansang Pilipinas at puwersahang migrasyon ng mamamayang Pilipino,” Fr Dwight read from a prayer pamphlet.

“Sa pamamagitan ng  gawain nating ito ay binibigyang linaw natin na ang kawalan ng kapayapaan sa bansa ay nauugat sa labis na kahirapang nararanasan sa mga ng mas nakararaming mamamayan, kawalan ng lupa ng mga magsasaka at kawalang ng kasiguraduhan sa trabaho ng mga manggagawa, patuloy na pagkasira ng kalikasan at nagpapatuloy na paglabag sa karapatang pantao,” De la Torre said.

The contemplation for the first station was the current occupation by both urban and rural poor of some 4,000 empty units of a National Housing Authority project in Pandi, Bulacan.

“The blatant neglect and insensitiveness of the government to the poor and oppressed drove the thousands of out compatriots to do what is right,” according to the PCPR.

Other meditations discussed the failure of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program three decades after the Mendiola Massacre and since President Cory Aquino signed it into law, with vast tracts of farmland still in the hands of a few landlords.

Likewise, the PCPR accused the owners of Housing Technology Industries and the Cavite provincial government of trying to hide from the alleged injustices relating to a Feb 1 factory fire in the export processing zone that killed at least 100 workers and left 1,000 still missing.

The protest procession leaders also said 20 years since the Mining Act of 1995 opened the mining industry to giant mining firms, environmental destruction continues as these companies expand their operations while their contribution to the local economy remains a measly 0.7% of GDP while providing jobs to less than 1% of the labor force.

The last of the meditations dealt with the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. Procession leaders said that since Rodrigo Duterte became president, more than 7,000 suspected drug addicts and pushers have been killed in his “war against illegal drugs.” Yet the police officers who were involved in the killings have gone unpunished and remain a threat to ordinary people who are being used by the drug syndicates. The number of peasants and ethnic people who fall victims to extrajudicial killings is also growing, the protesters.

“Tunay na walang kapayapaan sa papatinding pagabag sa karapatang pantao at nagpapatuloy na state of impunity sa bansa,” according to the final meditation.

In his final message, Fr Dwight said: “Sa ating pagkakaisa bilang mga migrante kasama ng sambayanang Pilipino na patuloy na inaapi at pinagsasamantalahan, ay ating lilikhain ang isang lipunang nagtataguyod ng tunay na katarungan, kapayapaan at buhay na ganap na kasiya-siya na siyang minimithi para ssa ating n gating Panginoong Tagapagligtas na si Hesucristo.”
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