“Uphold democracy, our human rights”
In observance of the Holy Week, 3,000 strong- protesters took to penitence their “sorrows” on the status of human rights in the country.
The urban poor community members of the Community Organizers Multiversity (COM) trooped to Plaza Miranda on Holy Tuesday morning, April 11, and walked all the way to Mendiola bearing seven large crosses.
The crosses presented issues that heavily affect the urban poor areas: Extra-judicial killings and death penalty; lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 down to 9; non-movement on the issue of housing and other basic services; spread of wrong and malicious information; climate change issues being used on eviction of informal settlers; the culture of fear and the lack of respect for women’s rights; the oppression and the double-standard observance of democracy, where the poor’s space is diminishing.
The activity is dubbed as Calvary of Urban Poor Communities or Kalbaryo ng mga Maralitang Taga-Lungsod
A short play version of the Passion of Christ featuring the victims of human rights violations and extra-judicial killings was presented where the group reiterated their calls. This was followed by a mass led by Manila Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Broderick Pabillo and running priest, Fr. Robert Reyes.
Calvary Hill of the poor
In a statement shared by COM, the group expressed their distress on the slow investigation on killings perpetrated both by the police force and by vigilante assailants, where the most common victims are the poor accused as drug offender.
“All of them who died, guilty or not, have the right to defend themselves in court. But that may never come. Most of them are rotting in morgues. Where is the justice?” Luz Domingo, COM Community Organizer and rights activist.
She shared that this Holy Week is one of the most painful for the urban poor who lost their families.
“Those who are spreading malicious information that even as accused and not proven, these victims deserved their deaths equally have to answer the law. They are spreading not just wrong information but hatred and discrimination,” Domingo added.
Bishop Pabillo encouraged all to observe what Jesus has done during the Lenten Season.
“We must as we preach practice compassion, love, and mercy. Let’s not be Judas Iscariot who condemned Christ, his brother, to the centurions and the Pharisees, the Sadducees. As we implement the law, let us as well promote justice and uphold human rights of each,” Bishop Pabillo said.
Each community leader and cross-bearer share a piece for the crosses they carried: for EJK to end and to stop the reinstatement of Death Penalty; to provide help and guidance instead of prison for the children in conflict with the law; to prioritize proper housing and relocation for the urban poor and fisherfolks; to uphold the human rights of the poor amid culture of discrimination; to advocate for a pro-poor climate change solutions; to respect the rights of women; and to protect the democracy and equal participation of the poor and the vulnerable.
COM urban poor areas who participated include communities from BASECO Compound, Isla Puting Bato in Tondo, Barangay Tatalon, ULAP-QC & Manila, Montalban Action Group, Montalban Resettlement, Taytay Floodway: Bagong Pagasa HOA, Exodus HOA, Maharlika HOA, Taytay Arenda, APOLA, and Alyansa ng mga Pederasyong Kumikilos sa Lawa ng Laguna.