Invitation to National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights

June 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

Greetings of peace!

On June 12, Independence Day, we would like to invite you to participate in a “National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights” in response to the rising tide of terrorism, martial rule and impunity that is now facing the nation.

In Manila, we shall be holding an inter-faith prayer and rally at the Andres Bonifacio Shrine (beside Manila City Hall) 4:00-6:00 p.m. We expect members of the Christian and Moro faiths, as well as sectoral organizations and concerned citizens, to come together in a united call for a peaceful and humane resolution to the Marawi siege.

The gathering will also highlight our opposition to martial law in Mindanao and possibly other parts of the country. It will call for an end to extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations, oppose the reimposition of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility, and push for the continuation or resumption of peace negotiations with the various armed movements in the country (pleas see the attached unity statement).

Please inform us if you are willing to join us at the Bonifacio Shrine on June 12 and be a signatory to the attached unity statement.We are also in need of material and financial resources for the event, particularly for the stage and sound system, food and transportation for performers and volunteers, flyers and publicity materials, and other logistical requirements. Your contribution will be highly appreciated.

Please get in touch with Eleanor de Guzman at mobile no. 0949.3266335 to confirm your attendance and/or contribution.

Thank you very much and hope to see you on the 12th!


Unity Statement: National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights

June 12, 2017

No to Terrorism!
Lift Martial Law!
Stop Aerial Bombings of Communities!
Stop Extrajudicial Killings!
Defend Human Rights!
Pursue the Peace Talks!

On June 12, Independence Day, we, concerned Filipinos from various faiths, sectors and political affiliations, will come together in a day of prayer and action to renew the call for peace and respect for human rights amidst the rising tide of terrorism, martial rule and impunity that threatens to rip the nation apart.

We extend our solidarity to the victims of the Marawi siege. We condemn the deliberate acts of terror by the ISIS-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups. We call on all people to come to the aid of thousands of internally displaced persons in Lanao del Sur and nearby areas.

Likewise, we gather to show our opposition to martial law in Mindanao and possibly other parts of the country. We call for an end to the aerial bombardment of Marawi and other conflict areas.

As the Marcos dictatorship showed, martial law is not the answer to the complex problems of Mindanao. A regime that trades Filipinos’ human rights for vague, ever moving law and order goals can only add fuel to armed rebellions and set back efforts to address the roots of the conflict. Martial law will further embolden law enforcers and state-sponsored vigilante and para-military groups to commit even more extrajudicial killings and curtail civil and political rights.

Continue reading

June16, 2017 : Kamayan Para sa Kalikasan

Continuing with our focus on green development, please come to

Kamayan para sa Kalikasan Forum
on Friday, June 16, 2017 at 10:30 am-1:30pm

at  Kamayan Restaurant on EDSA ( near Ortigas Ave., across the gate of Corinthian Gardens subdivision).

This session is being co-organized by the Climate Change congress of the Philippines (CCCP)

The theme is  “Building the Country  from the Bottom Up”.

Our main speaker will be

        Gina Lopez, former DENR secretary, who will  speak on I LOVE – Investments in Loving Organizations for Village Economies.  This program aims to empower communities with the funneling of funds and technology guided by the principles of integrity and ecology.

Other speakers are

        Marlo Mendoza  DENR Undersecretary for Operations (invited)  and

        Bel Formanes from the C|limate Change Congress of the Philippines.

This Kamayan is organized every third Friday of the month  by Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy together with SALIKA.

We thank Kamayan Restaurant which has been supporting this Forum as part  of the company’s environmental advocacy for the past 26 years.

Thank you.

God bless-

Angelina P. Galang
President
Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy

Project Address: ESI Bldg., Miriam College,
Katipunan Ave., Quezon City
Contact No: 899-0675;5805400 loc 1253
mail:      greenconvergencephil.com
website:   www.greenconvergencephil.com
fb page:   fb.com/ greenconvergencephilippines
twitter:    Henk Hamoen (@GreenCon) | Twitter

Philippine military, rebels create ‘peace corridor’

A team composed of government security forces and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels has been deployed in the southern Philippines to secure a “peace corridor” for refugees fleeing fighting in Marawi City.

Former foes unite to provide safe passage for refugees fleeing fighting in Marawi

Darwin Wally Wee, Zamboanga City 
UCAN Philippines

June 2, 2017

Irene Santiago, a peace activist and government peace negotiator, said the creation of the “peace corridor” would also ensure “a reliable space for humanitarian assistance to pass through.”

She said some 300 government and rebel fighters have been deployed throughout the length of the 73-kilometer “corridor” and “will be augmented as the need arises.”

The “peace corridor” was set up after rebel leaders offered to assist the government in ending the fighting in Marawi that entered its 11th day on June 2.

The conflict started when a band of local terrorist fighters claiming to have links with the so-called Islamic State tried to occupy the city on May 23.

On June 1, the military confirmed that 11 soldiers were killed and seven others were injured due to “friendly fire” during aerial bombing on May 31.

The Defense Department reported that 36 members of the security forces and 120 terrorist fighters have been killed in the clashes. At least 19 civilians were also reported killed.

Testament to peace process

The establishment of the “peace corridor” is a “testament to how far the peace process [with Moro rebels] has gone,” said Santiago.

She said MILF rebels, who had been waging war against the government for more than three decades, agreed to use “ceasefire mechanisms” to manage the “peace corridor.”

In 2014, the Philippine government signed a “comprehensive peace agreement” with the rebels.

“This ceasefire agreement remains in effect to this day and the ceasefire mechanisms are in place and working to prevent any armed conflict between the two parties,” said Santiago.

The agreement states that the MILF rejects all “kinds of terrorist acts.” The rebel group also committed not to provide sanctuary or assistance to terrorist groups and other lawless elements.

Santiago said the “peace corridor” is a “manifestation of the shared vision of government and MILF of what our society should look like — one that is open, inclusive, compassionate, just, and cooperative.”

“This is the complete opposite of the kind of society the terrorists want — a closed, isolationist, violent, ruthless society ruled by fear with total disregard for human life and … our diverse Philippine society,” she said.

Working jointly to deal with the present crisis, “the government and the MILF are also building a major corridor to peace.”

Number of refugees rises as fighting continues in Mindanao

Residents of Marawi City in the southern Philippines seek shelter in one of the evacuation centers set up by the government in nearby Iligan City. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

Tens of thousands have fled Marawi violence, agencies scramble to provide aid to help displaced

Mark Saludes, Iligan City 
UCAN Philippines
May 29, 2017

The number of people displaced in the southern Philippines continues to rise as military operations against gunmen claiming to have links with the so-called Islamic State entered its sixth day.

“We expect the number to increase. We are expecting more cases of displacement,” said McMillan Lucman of the autonomous government of the Muslim region of Mindanao.

As of May 28, the crisis management committee of the region has recorded more than 67,800 individuals had fled fighting in the southern city of Marawi to 38 evacuation sites while about 16,600 sought shelter in private homes.

Hadja Pombaen Kader of the social welfare office of the Muslim region said “home-based” refugees are staying with friends and relatives.

“They go to the evacuation centers during the day to collect food aid and relief goods,” Kader told ucanews.com.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has already released US$44,000 worth of assistance to affected families in the region.

Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the country’s Catholic bishops, has prepared at least 3,000 food packs and emergency aid goods for distribution.

Father Edwin Gariguez, executive director of Caritas Philippines, said his office and other dioceses across the country are also preparing to send relief goods to affected communities.

The priest called on faith-based groups to help mitigate the impact of the conflict and the displacement of people.

Father Gariguez said the church would use funds collected from its Lenten program to help affected Muslim and Christian communities.

The priest, however, said that the church aid agency will only “supplement” the government’s efforts.

“In case the need becomes big, we are prepared to ask help from the Caritas Confederation,” he said, adding that his office is still “assessing the situation.”

The priest appealed to the government not only to focus on war but also on the people.

“It should not just be a military aspect but a humanitarian response as well,” said Father Gariguez.

Most refugees have fled to the city of Iligan, according to social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

“They number more than the [internally displace people] in evacuation centers,” she said, adding that assistance should be given to evacuees staying with their relatives.

Armed confrontations and displacement in Marawi City

Protection ALERT
31 May 2017, Issue No. 2, Page 1

Incident Summary

Firefights broke out in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur on the afternoon of 23 May 2017, following the ambush of a military vehicle by members of the Maute Group, a local armed group that has engaged in armed clashes with government troops since early 2016, and which has reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Following the declaration of Martial Law throughout Mindanao on the night of 23 May, clashes have continued, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines launching surgical air strikes in the barangays of Basak Malutlut, Gadungan, and Bangon. As of 29 May, nearby areas such as the municipality of Marantao have also reportedly been affected.

Displacement Updates

According to government estimates as of 30 May, around 14,313 families (estimated 71,115 persons) have fled Marawi either towards the northbound highway heading to Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro, or the westbound road going to the nearby municipalities of Marantao and Balindong. Based on data reported and being continuously updated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), this number includes 2,261 families (estimated 10,809 persons) who are currently staying in evacuation centers and 12,052 families (estimated 60,306 persons) home-based IDPs in Region X and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), including Marawi City.

Protection Assessment

As thousands continue to flee Marawi, access to food and other basic items such as drinking water and medicines remains the biggest challenge for those who are now in collective centers (holding areas) and evacuation centers as well as those staying with host families. Since most of the displaced families fled without their belongings, kitchen utensils are seen as a particular need during the current Ramadhan season. In addition, market prices of commodities in Iligan City and surrounding areas were observed to have increased due to the influx of IDPs, raising concerns regarding access to basic needs for the most vulnerable, including those who have been separated from their families. Local government units in most areas hosting IDPs have provided initial assistance.

Validation and registration of home-based IDPs are currently being conducted by barangay officials in the respective host communities. Cultural sensitivities such as the prevalence of rido (clan feuds) may pose additional challenges in the tracking and registration of home-based IDPs. Especially considering that many IDPs rely on the resources of their relatives and extended networks, family tracing and reunification are also of vital concern.

Reported concerns regarding physical safety, including safe passage for civilians trapped in areas affected by firefights and freedom of movement for those without identity documents (given strict identification checks implemented in some areas), are being verified by protection partners. As of 30 May, the Regional Human Rights Commission is also monitoring and validating reports of civilian casualties and damage to property.

Initial protection concerns have been identified in evacuation centers, such as: (1) inadequate coverage from heat and rain, coupled with insufficient latrines/basic water and sanitation facilities to cater to the growing number of IDPs, which could trigger health risks; (2) lack of privacy and increased risk of gender-based violence, which may result from the absence of partitions in sleeping quarters and lighting in pathways and areas around portable toilets; and (3) psychosocial issues that could be addressed through the establishment of child-friendly and women-friendly spaces, as well as feeding areas for lactating mothers.

IDPs’ access to information is also a key concern. Emergency responders, through the coordination mechanisms that have been activated (see below) are working to improve the collection, validation, and dissemination of displacement data in order to effectively address protection and other needs, including through the provision of targeted assistance.   Continue reading

Pursue What Leads to Peace

Statement of the Mindanao Bishops on Marawi and Martial Law

To All People of Good Will:

We, Catholic Bishops of Mindanao, address this Statement to every Mindanawon. We originally intended to respond to the requests of our Catholic faithful who asked for pastoral guidance on the issue of Martial Law.

We pray for all the murdered innocent victims in Marawi and ask the Lord to protect all the families that have fled to safety.

We condemn the terrorist acts that have caused the loss of many innocent lives, the burning of homes, public buildings, including a Protestant school dormitory and a Catholic Cathedral.

We condemn the unconscionable kidnapping of teachers and church personnel.

We pray for the safety of all the kidnapped, of Fr. Teresito Suganob and his companions. We appeal to the hostage takers to release all of them unharmed. The victims fear death but they also have the courage to give ultimate witness to Christ.

In the strongest terms we condemn terrorism in its various forms. It is an ideology that is totally against the tenets of any religion of peace. Especially so when terrorism is perpetrated while our Muslim brothers and sisters are preparing for the holy month of Ramadhan. Terrorism distorts and falsifies the true meaning of any religion. It destroys harmonious relationships among peoples of different faiths. It creates a world of suspicion and prejudice, of hatred and hostility.

The President of the Philippines has responded to the Marawi crisis by declaring Martial Law in the entire Mindanao. Many criticise the decision as reminiscent of the horrors of a past dictatorship. Others support the decision as justified.

We are aware that the problems of peace and order, of the continuing disruptive activities of other rebel groups, the problems of criminality and drugs, of corruption and underdevelopment are in every nook and corner of Mindanao. Mindanao problems go beyond the city limits of Marawi.

Our Catholic faithful have asked for pastoral guidance regarding Martial Law. We are guided by the Sacred Scriptures and by the social teachings of the Church. St. Paul exhorts us to “pursue what leads to peace” (Rom. 14: 19).

Martial Law is a means of last resort. Are moral principles fulfilled? Were other means to resolve the deep and wide serious problems of Mindanao impractical and ineffective? Will the positive effects of Martial Law outweigh the negative effects? Will there be probability of success? Will it bring about a culture of accountability and end a culture of impunity? Will Martial Law increase human rights violations? Will Martial Law be abused for evil purposes?

The answers to many questions are speculative. We have many fears. But at present we simply do not have solid and sufficient facts to absolutely reject the declaration of Martial Law as morally reprehensible. But we are certainly agreed that Martial Law must be temporary.

We shall condemn any abuse of Martial Law and as in the past will condemn it outright if it goes in the way of evil. Let us be vigilant.

We exhort everyone to be calm in the face of Martial Law, to be obedient to the just commands of lawful authority, and not to provoke violent reaction. We urge the government to remove the causes of terrorism, such as poverty and injustice, through just and accountable governance focused solely on the common good.

The focus of every religion is peace on earth, peace in heaven. Let us pursue together what leads to peace. Let all religious teachers and leaders quell the tendencies towards the terrorist ideology. Together let us pursue what leads to peace. Let us pray for peace and work for peace.

God bless the people of Marawi. God bless all Mindanawons.

With the approval of the Bishops of Mindanao,

+Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Cotabato
26 May 2017

June 1 LAKBAYAN Culmination

WHAT:  Culmination rally of 300 farmers who joined the LAKBAYAN para sa repormang Agraryo, a four-day 100-km Lakbayan walk from Hermosa Bataan and other support groups.

The Lakbayan will culminate in front of the DAR on June 1, where they will be joined by 400 more farmers, rural women and support groups from the Save Agrarian Reform Alliance including Kaisahan Ng mga Maliliit na Magsasaka, KATARUNGAN, Katipunan ng Bagong Pilipina, Pambansang Kaisahan ng Magbubukid sa Pilipinas, Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan. On June 2, they will march to Malacanang to seek President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment to install them and implement agrarian reform, effectively in the countryside.

WHERE: In front of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)

WHEN: June 1, 2017 (Thursday)
Mass up @ NHA – 8:30 am
Start of March to DAR – 9:00 am

Brief Background:

The Lakbayan is an initiative led by the farmers to demand President Duterte and DAR Secretary Rafael  “Ka Paeng” Mariano  on its promise of CHANGE. Also to  call out DAR on the sluggish implementation of agrarian reform in the 214 hectares of land in Barangay Sumalo and other land conflict cases that the government has failed to prioritize; (b) expedite the installation of farmers in their land and the extension of support services under the program; (c) demand accountability from Sec. Mariano.   Continue reading

Peace be With You

Statement of the CBCP President on the Fifth Round of Peace Talks between the Philippine Government and the CPP/NPA/NDF

It is not without reason that many of our fellow Filipinos do not have high hopes about the peace talks that are entering the 5th Round — after all, we have been through this way before.

But we are in the Easter Season, and the Risen Lord greets us all: “Peace be with you”.  Peace is the gift of the Resurrection.  Peace calmed the troubled hearts of his despondent apostles.  Peace gave them the courage to burst forth from the Upper Room to proclaim the Good News.  Peace ignited that charity in their hearts that made them share everything in common.  Peace built the community.  Peace can still rebuild our nation!

We, your bishops, therefore commend the next round of the Peace Negotiations to the Prince of Peace — since He calms all storms, silences the shrieking of demons and emboldens those who are discouraged and afraid.  Indeed, one of the most common exhortations in all of Scripture was one beloved to Saint John Paul II: “Be not afraid”.  This is what we ask of the negotiators on both sides of the table.  Do not be afraid to take the bold steps that alone can bring peace.  Intransigence is not strength.  Humility is.  That one has stood one’s ground is not necessarily the best that can be said of anyone.  That he has sown the seeds of peace is to say of a person that he is blessed!

While we have a legacy to uphold as a God-fearing, God-loving nation with precious freedoms assured us by human reason and enshrined in international covenants and in the fundamental law of the land, we must, with the same steadfast determination, stand for social justice and for the renewal of an order that has left too many to wither away in the peripheries.

Peace be with you…but for Christ’s peace to pervade over our land, we need men and women of peace.  We trust that our negotiators — on both sides — will be anointed by God’s Spirit so that His sons and daughters in this land that has already been drenched by so much blood may at last walk the ways of peace.

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, May 24, 2017, Mary Help of Christians

(SGD)+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, CBCP

Appeal for Volunteer Trainers

To: All Laiko Members: National Lay Organizations & Arch/Diocesan Councils of The Laity

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

The peace and love of the Lord!

In an effort to help victims of drug abuse, LAIKO has pledged, together with the Lay Society of St. Arnold Janseen and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to support the Spiritual Transformation Program of the Archdiocese of Manila.

Since the program which is now in the implementation stage is in dire need of more able and willing facilitators, we are appealing to each of the lay organization members to send at least three (3) volunteers who are willing to undergo training to serve as facilitators /trainors. The training of trainors’ will be held on June 10-11, 2017 at the Catholic Trade Center, Tayuman St., Sta. Cruz, Manila.  LAIKO Secretariat will coordinate with you to follow up the names of your volunteers.

May the Lord the giver of life, continue to inspire and guide us as we strive to establish community of disciples in our midst.

Sincerely yours in the service of the Lord,

ZENAIDA F. CAPISTRANO
President

Noted by:

+MOST REV. BRODERICK S. PABILLO, D.D.
Chairman, CBCP Episcopal Commission on the Laity

An Advanced Leadership Course for Yielding Missionary Disciples

March 21,2017

Greetings in the Lord Jesus Christ!

We are pleased to inform you that the Ligaya ng Panginoon Community has launched The Harvest Institute (HARVEST), a ministry dedicated to “Yielding Empowered Leaders for Radical Discipleship and the New Evangelization.” This initiative is a response to the popular clamor echoed during the Harvest Conferences held successively in 2012-2014, and the National Catholic Charismatic Conference in 2015, to help equip the participants to actively bring back the fruits of the conferences to their respective communities and parishes.   Continue reading