Church people cry foul over state violence

CHURCH people condemned the repression of the state police against the people asserting their rights to hold a peaceful assembly towards the House of Representatives in Batasan, Quezon City on the day Pres. Aquino delivered his 3rd State of the Nation Address.

Armed with clubs ,truncheons, and  shields, the  riot police  spared no one. The police, at random, beat and whip whoever they can within reach. A total of 12 churchpeople  were injured.

The Promotion of Church People’s Response  said among the twelve injured from the ranks of the church people include Bishop Solito Toquero of the United Methodist Church, Fr. Rennie delos Santos of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and Mr. Nardy Sabino of the Promotion of Church People’s Response.

Mr. Sabino, General Secretary of PCPR, got 23 beatings from truncheon and shield while helping another rallyist who was also hit by riot police. He had contusions on his back, arms , and head. Fr.  Rennie Delos Santos had a superficial lacerated wound on his head.

In the opinion of the attending physician, Sabino and Delos Santos have  to be  given medical attention for seven days 7  and 19 days, respectively,  if without complication, otherwise this period will vary accordingly.

Other church people  received  beatings on their shoulders,  legs, arms, hands, backs , and forearms. Some were hit  by stones thrown from the side of the police.

“Defend the Sanctity of Life, Freedom and National Sovereignty Resist the Dismal, Deceptive and Deadly Path of Aquino Administration,” is the banner statement of the church people as they join the People’s SONA last July 23, 2012.

With the continuing plight of the Filipino people in the abyss of abject poverty and hunger, unemployment, absence of access to necessary social services and misappropriation of public funds, church people have chosen to accompany the people’s pursuit of a life with dignity and pride.

Moved by the imperatives of their faith and social teachings of the church, church people are commissioned to    love our neighbor and defend the rights of the poor by accompanying them towards a path of justice  and dignity.

The people’s expression of righteous indignation, and their freedom to speak out their legitimate dissent should be considered as their strength and incredible capacity to sustain the struggle for a life in fullness for all.

The presence of church people in the midst of the Filipino people’s SONA is a clear manifestation that people at the pews and those in the leadership cannot remain silent nor apathetic in the face of economic woes and tribulations more so when one of their kind such as Fr. Pops Tentorio and missionary Wilhem Geertman are  killed by virtue of their chosen path, that is, to serve God and his people, the group said.

Public action and public witness is a humble way of sending the message that church people must not fail to accompany the people’s journey. Their participation in public actions is a product of prayerful discernment and prudent act in times of recurring moral decay.

Being one with the People’s SONA, therefore, is a day of reckoning that we cannot anymore thread the same path.   When one finds trapped in wired fence on both sides with the front blocked by hundreds of police far from where Pres. Aquino delivered his SONA, isn’t that a clear violation of right to a peaceful assembly?  When one receives 23 lashes from clubs, truncheons and kicks by state police after saving one who fell from the ground, isn’t that a blatant violation of political right?  When an assembly critical to the present dispensation is surrounded by 6,000 throng of state forces, isn’t that nay maximum tolerance but maximum security against the people?  If that is maximum tolerance, what could have been the minimum?, the group lamented.

The July 23 violence only unmasks the true face of a so-called pro-democracy administration. When  the people asserts their right, the state repression shows how it can utilize all resources to muffle, trample or prevent the people to exercise fully their democratic rights, Sabino said.

The group demanded justice to all victims of police and state brutality .

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