The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) welcomes the Pastoral Letter released by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) last January 30, 2017, entitled “For I find no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies (Ez. 18:32)”. In these times of confusion, fear, state-led intimidation, and a seven-month Reign of Terror, the statement of our respected Bishops is just about the right kind of disturbing voice in the wilderness our lost compatriots need right now.
We nod in agreement when the CBCP states: “The deep root of the drug problem and criminality is the poverty of the majority, the destruction of the family and corruption in society. The step we have to take is to overcome poverty, especially through the giving of permanent work and sufficient wages to workers (underscoring ours).”
We have to confront the socio-economic and cultural factors that create this malady – including the lack of sources of income, the job insecurity, the loneliness and predatorial culture that individualistic capitalism engenders, the unreformed, syndicated and corrupt police and law enforcement.
We, as militant workers from all sectors of our society, are ourselves men and women with families, who are as adamant in protecting our own children from the dangers of the drug trade. And yet we ourselves know, from our mutual experiences in our communities, that shunning, shaming and cutting off both drug victims and drug trade elements from a second chance at reform and turning around their lives save no one in the end. We ourselves know, from our long, bitter struggle for justice and reparation in our sectors, that no solution is garnered unless a mutual acknowledgment of the dignity of our counterparts in litigation and negotiation is achieved. At the same time, we as well are aware of protecting the quality of life of our members and our allies—and are very, very wary of anyone who would dare foist easy solutions to us in the face of complex problems, at the cost of our principles and dearly-held freedoms.
We in the workers’ movement, coming as we are from all social and religious slants, see the value of transformative justice, as well as rehabilitating even our criminal elements.
With this statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference Philippines stands with an awakening larger majority of our Filipino people. They are now aware of the dangers of the government’s Death Policies — Oplan Tokhang, the bills reimposing the death penalty and lowering the age of criminality – that threaten to or have destroyed our institutions, granting us a “reign of peace” that is more the peace of the grave, cramped as they are with the skulls and bones of thousands of innocent and untried victims.
We in SENTRO therefore reiterate: the Death Policies of the Duterte regime must be stopped.
As much as we workers do not always share the political views of many of our religious groups, we nevertheless loudly proclaim our conviction with them right now: a civilization built on peace, justice and love.