Pope Francis hears the cry of PCPR

18 July 2015

by Rene Q. Bas –

Pope Francis hears the cry of PCPR

YESTERDAY the NGO Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) issued a
press statement denouncing the “the filing of trumped-up charges by
State forces against Church human rights and peace workers who are
active in supporting the rights of the indigenous peoples openly
campaigning against large-scale mining and environmental plunder by
multinational corporations.”

“We are both saddened and enraged by these malicious attacks against
clergy and other human rights advocates as well as leaders of
progressive organizations who work in solidarity with the marginalized
and oppressed. We demand that Pres. Simeon Benigno Aquino III stop these
deplorable attacks and serious harassment against those who are working
for the rights of the people.”

PCPR said Philippine National Police, a local unit of the Philippine
Army, and their “assets” in the local government and the community filed
trumped-up charges against Church leaders in Davao City and in two towns
in Saranggani province apparently to limit the accused Church people’s
work for the wellbeing and advocacy for the rights of indigenous peoples
and internally displaced persons.

PCPR said that “in Davao City, the Rev. Jurie Jaime of Promotion of
Church People’s Response, Sr. Stella Matutina, OSB of Panalipdan, and
Sr. Restita Miles of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, as well
as nine other human rights defenders and ‘John Does’ are also included
in fabricated charges of kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and
violations of the Anti-Trafficking Act.”

In the Saranggani province towns of Malapatan and Alabel, PCPR also
said, “three clergy from the United Church of Christ in the
Philippines—namely, the Rev. Allen Bill Veloso, Chairperson of
Karapatan-SoCSKSarGen, and Pastor Sadrach Sabella, Secretary General of
Karapatan-SoCSKSarGen, and the Rev. Roger Rafalez—as well as nine
others” are among those falsely charged with |attempted murder, inciting
to sedition, violations of the law for the protection of children, and
International Humanitarian Law.”

Karapatan is the most nationally active human rights organization. With
branches in all provinces, its workers are often by police and military
officers of being members or supporters of rebel communist groups.

“We are appalled that State forces have chosen to thrust ‘fascist fists’
toward these clergy and religious human rights advocates. Do the Armed
Forces of the Philippines believe that they can cover up their human
rights violations and militarization of indigenous people’s communities
by filing cases against the human rights defenders, who have been
standing in solidarity with those speaking out against AFP violations?
We should be thanking these Church people for doing what they could in
order to uplift people who have long been marginalized and beaten-down
through government neglect,” PCPR said.

The group reminded the public that “at least six Church workers are
facing charges and expressed alarm over the blatant harassment of Church
people.” It said, “This obviously systematic harassment is indicative of
the human rights violations that have been perpetrated under the Aquino

Pres. Aquino is to deliver his last State of the Nation Address (SONA)
on Monday, July 27. PCPR, saying “human rights violations… continue with
impunity [under Aquino], asked: “Will he say that he is unable to
prevent State forces and authorities from committing such violations? He
cannot excuse himself from accountability…[and defend himself] by saying
that these are isolated cases. State policy under ‘Oplan Bayanihan’ has
been to attempt to silence dissenting voices against the government’s
anti-poor and anti-people policies and programs; violating human rights
to this end is an established pattern of State forces under the Aquino

PCPR called on “ the faithful to remain steadfast in keeping the flame
of TRUTH burning bright as we stand in solidarity with communities in
their struggle for JUSTICE. We must hold fast to what is honorable as we
perform our prophetic and priestly ministries in service to the poor,
oppressed, and marginalized. We must never surrender to the crooked and
deceptive path of Aquino, whose legacy is forever tarnished by his
administration’s miserable record of widespread, vicious, and insidious
violations of human rights.”

Vatican gives a voice to people harmed by the mining industry
IN Rome on Friday morning (Friday afternoon here in Manila) a conference
on the theme — “United to God We Heed a Cry,” began. It ends today.
Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, head of the Pontifical
Council for Justice and Peace, said it is “dedicated to giving a voice
to the communities adversely affected by mining operations.”

This Pontifical Council organized the conference in collaboration with
the Latin American Churches and the Mining Network.

Cardinal Turkson said this event brings together about 30
representatives of communities affected by mining activities, especially
from Africa, Asia and America. The conference will examine the situation
of these communities.

In 2013 The Ponitifical Council for Justice and Peace also organized
conference titled “Mining for the Common Good,” on the request of mining
company directors. It aimed to evaluate the human, economic and
environmental impact of mining.

Another conference, “Creating a New future, Reimaging the Future of
Mining,” will be held in September.

Pope Francis, on Friday, sent a message to the delegates to the
conference. It sounds as if he had heard the PCPR’s laments before he
sent the message. Below is Zenit.org’s translation of the message.

* * *

To the Venerable Brother Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson President
of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

I am happy to express my greeting and my encouragement to the
participants in the meeting of representatives of communities concerned
with mining activities, organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice
and Peace, in collaboration with the Latin American Churches and the
Mining network on the theme “United to God We Heed a Cry.”

You come from different situations and you experience in diverse ways
the repercussions of mining activities, whether they are carried out by
large industrial companies, by artisans or by informal operators.

You wished to meet in Rome, on this day of reflection that is linked to
a passage of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (cf. nn.
187-190), to echo the cry of numerous people, families and communities
that suffer directly or indirectly from the too often negative
consequences of mining activity. A cry because of lost lands; a cry
because of the extraction of riches of the soil that, paradoxically, has
not produced wealth for the local populations which have remained poor;
a cry of pain in reaction to the violence, threats and corruption; a cry
of anger and help because of the violations of human rights, blatantly
or discreetly trampled with regards to the health of the populations,
the conditions of work, at times the slavery and traffic of persons that
fuels the tragic phenomenon of prostitution; a cry of sadness and of
impotence for the pollution of the waters, of the air and of the soil; a
cry of incomprehension because of the absence of inclusive and
supporting processes on the part of those civil, local and national
authorities, which have the fundamental duty to promote the common good.

Minerals, and more generally the riches of the soil and subsoil are a
precious gift of God, of which humanity has made us for a millennium
(cf. Job 28:1-10). Minerals, in fact, are fundamental for numerous
sectors of life and of human activity. In the Encyclical Laudato Si’ I
wished to address an urgent appeal to collaborate in taking care of our
common home, opposing the tragic consequences of environmental
degradation in the life of the poorest and excluded, and advancing
towards an integral, inclusive and sustainable development (cf. n. 13).
The entire mining sector is undoubtedly called to carry out a radical
paradigm change to improve the situation in many countries. The
Governments of countries of origin of the multinational societies and of
those in which they operate, entrepreneurs and investors, the local
authorities that supervise the development of mining operations, the
workers and their representatives, the providers of international
supplies with the various intermediaries and those that work in the
markets of these materials, the consumers of merchandise for whose
realization use has been made of minerals, can make their contribution.
All these people are called to adopt behavior inspired by the fact that
we constitute one human family, “that everything is in relation, and
that the genuine care of our life itself and of our relations with
nature is inseparable from fraternity, from justice and from fidelity in
our dealings with others” (Ibid., 70).

I encourage the communities represented in this meeting to reflect on
how they can interact constructively with all the other actors involved,
in a sincere and respectful dialogue. I hope that this occasion will
contribute to greater awareness and responsibility on these subjects: it
is beginning from human dignity that the necessary culture is created to
address the present crisis.

I pray to the Lord that your work these days may be rich in fruits, and
that those fruits may be shared with all those that are in need of them.
I ask you, please, to pray for me and I affectionately bless you, the
communities to which you belong and your families.

From the Vatican, July 17, 2015
[Translation by ZENIT]

Andy Whitmore (Whit)
Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks)
Finspace, 225-229 Seven Sisters Road, London, N4 2DA
Ph: +44 (0)775 439 5597
Email: comms@piplinks.org
Web: http://www.piplinks.org
Skype: mantissa88

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell