† MOST REVD GODOFREDO J. DAVID
Supreme Bishop, Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Because the poor are oppressed, I will now rise up, says the Lord; I will place them in the safety from which they long’. (Psalms 12.5)
The Psalmist bears out that God know of the oppression of the poor. When wickedness abounds, and is countenanced by those in authority, the people can rely upon God for the redress of their grievances. We firmly believe that God struggles with the oppressed for their emancipation; and he journeys along with the people in the path towards abundant life. Certainly, God’s justice will punish those who rule with tyranny and terror.
We strongly anchor our hearts to this hope as the heavy yoke of oppression is again being imposed upon the Filipino people with the enforcement of Republic Act Number 9372, otherwise known as the Human Security Act of 2007. This is a state policy crafted by the Arroyo regime to purportedly fight terrorism and protect our people from terror. We believe, though, that this anti-terror law poses more frightening consequences rather than offering solutions to the situation it seeks to address.
The Iglesia Filipina Independiente believes that the Human Security Act of 2007 would only exacerbate human rights violations in the country and the incessant onslaught on civil liberties and democratic rights. This anti-terror law provides the police and the military more latitude for surveillance, warrantless and arbitrary arrests, abductions, and illegal detention of individuals who are suspected to be opposed to the government. It can also be used to label any form of speech, expression and redress of grievances, as well as legitimate protests actions, peaceful assemblies and lawful dissent, as acts of terrorism.
Given the current situation where there is a fanatical persecution of individuals, organizations, and institutions deemed critical of the government, unabated extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances attributed to the military, the enforcement of the anti-terror law would certainly lead to state repression and provide a license for the military to crackdown on legitimate activists and critics of the government.
We are opposed to the Human Security Act of 2007 as it would trample upon human dignity, and prohibits individuals from exercising their inherent rights as social beings. We are opposed to the Human Security Act of 2007, as it would restrict the people from responsibly assuming their social and political duties on the basis of their moral conviction. The Human Security Act of 2007 makes an outright mockery to the democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution. It is a blatant assault to our constitutional rights and sovereignty as a people.
We strongly assert that the government, or the military, does not have the legal authority and moral right to suppress the people and restrain them from exercising their inherent right as citizens of the country. To do otherwise is illegal and immoral, or more aptly, terroristic. The Human Security Act of 2007, in essence, is a malevolent embodiment of an extremely anti-people policy that provides a tool of terror in the hands of a virtual military state.
In the light of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ tagging of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente as ‘enemy of the state’ and being put in the list of entities that are in the ‘echelon of alliances with the communist party’, we are concerned for the safety of our bishops, priests, lay workers and members who are engaged in social actions and prophetic witness. With the still unsolved killing of Bishop Alberto Ramento and Father William Tadena, and where a number of our priests have to endure harassment and live under the constant threat of death, we fear that the worst attack on our Church is yet to come with this government’s anti-terror law.
We believe very strongly that under the sleeves of the Human Security Act of 2007 is a scheme meant to provide the bases for charging revolutionary groups as terrorists and to go after revolutionary forces on a full-scale war in the guise of a war on terror. We fear that a military state will not hesitate to turn this measure into an instrument that would sabotage the long years of the peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
This probable scenario unveils, all the more, the evil face of the anti-terror law. It runs contrary to the aspiration of the Filipino people for the resolution of the armed conflict and the establishment of just peace in the country. It only allows a military state to unleash its vicious attack with impunity upon advocates of national democracy, pro-people social and political reforms, and equitable economic progress. It can never provide solution to the widespread poverty bred by corruption, social unrest resulting from irresponsible governance, and armed conflict that stems from an oppressive and exploitative rule of the powerful and the mighty.
The Iglesia Filipina Independiente, therefore, strongly exhorts President Arroyo to work for the immediate repeal of the Human Security Act of 2007 in the spirit of truly protecting our people from terror. The people have no need for this tyrannical scheme. What they demand is for the government to safeguard their democratic rights as a people, to uphold their civil and political rights as citizens of the country, and to protect their freedom to express themselves without fear of persecution.
We also urge the faithful and the rest of the Filipino people to remain vigilant, stand firmly and courageously against terrorism in all its many guises, and much more if it manifests in the form state repression. Enshrined in our very soul as a nation is our inherent right to freedom, and it is our solemn duty as a people to protect and preserve this legacy. Let us persevere in our journey towards just peace, democracy and sovereignty as a people and a nation.