The mayor that called himself a “socialist” on the presidential campaign trail and said he will attain peace during his term has turned into a megalomaniac who overturns promises. Abolishing peace talks between the national government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) paved the way for “red-tagging” progressive groups and certain leaders.
Suppressing progressive groups is a manifestation of a fascist government; they are afraid of the people and fail to address society’s problems.
The prevailing problems revolve around class struggle, which is not addressed by government, but has been the work of progressive groups, through organizing medical missions and providing a livelihood for marginalized and indigenous populations. These groups are the architects in fighting government oppression and abusive capitalists that have taken advantage of their lack of education.
On April 16, the Philippine National Police (PNP) publicly posted photos of mass organization leaders around Moises Padilla in Negros Occidental. This “red-tagging” by the PNP made these individuals appear to be subordinates of the left. Law enforcement did not conduct background checks, they merely label them as one who critiques and organizes rallies amid calls for reform.
Not all progressives are members of the CPP. Activism is merely a collective effort seeking an alternative way to solve a problem, particularly those pertaining to government.
The cancelation of Sr. Patricia Fox’ missionary visa, due to her involvement politics, led to her demise as a person intended to serve the needy; her effort trying to help Filipino farmers was part of Catholic Church Social Action duties. While an activist nonetheless, it was not by joining rallies, but through community-building.
How is a missionary scrutinized over Chinese drug smugglers or child pornographers from the west? How is somebody establishing basic Christian communities being considered for deportation?
The church has been very vocal on the oppression of the poor, such is the case with the Negros peace movement, initiated by the Basic Ecclesiastical Community in the Archdiocese of Negros. During Martial Law, the Catholic Church was very critical of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, asserting the government was behind the merciless killing of unarmed civilians and activists being tortured, along with the oppression of sugarcane plantation workers, or sacada, in Negros.
The church believes social justice is a tenet of social teaching and their activism is based on the idea of Jesus Christ bringing good news to the poor. Progressives carry this ethos, which can be considered the highest of Christian values – activists can be considered “true Christians,” rather than the typical Sunday church-goer.
Duterte’s harassment of activists is a reinterpretation of Nero, who persecuted Christians during his reign. Today, Duterte is harassing and eliminating those who oppose his administration, which includes shutting down progressive leaders.
Activism is vital in a democratic society, it is a compass of good governance. If there is protest, then the government must look into the matter. Rallies serve as foundations of a unified movement, grounded on a call for liberty.
Duterte’s human rights abuses and views on activism will lead him directly to jail.
You cannot separate activism from the Catholic Church as they both aim to transform government institutions and social structures, both believed to bring social inequality and exploitation./WDJ