A statement of support for those who seek the truth
On July 18, 2019, a criminal complaint was filed by PNP-CIDG against dozens of Filipino citizens for allegedly committing sedition, among other charges. Immediately on the day after the filing of charges, CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles promptly issued a public statement expressing his disbelief and sadness at the unexpected turn of events, particularly for the bishops included in the sedition raps for these are men “whose sincerity, decency, respectfulness, and love for our country and our people are beyond doubt”.
We, seminarians and formators of SAN JOSE SEMINARY, a Jesuit-run seminary for the formation of Diocesan priests from all over the country, likewise extend our support for the bishops and priests accused of sedition, along with the other accused men and women who champion causes for and engagement with the poor. They are Filipino citizens whose advocacies have been firmly rooted in a profound respect for human life, for due process, and for our Constitution. When the democratic principles of “right to life” and “right to fair trial” were being challenged, they sought to strengthen our democratic values and institutions by upholding the constitutional rights of every Filipino. Thus, resorting to unconstitutional means would invalidate their efforts to protect the pillars of our democracy.
We are alarmed at the possible repercussions of the sedition case on our fragile democracy, especially on efforts for a genuine social inclusion of the poor. When people who have taken the cudgels for those who grieve in silence are persecuted on account of their promotion of justice, who else shall defend the defenseless, stand up against brutal violence, foster the healing of social divides, uphold the sacred rights of every human person, remind us of our timeless values, seek for deeper truths, and call us to meaningful encounters with even “the worst sinners”?
But we do not want violence to beget more violence. We reiterate “active non-violence” as an alternative response to the violence all around us. We join Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s invitation for us to “respond in faith and hope through our common prayer.” We pray that God would “inspire those in public office to uphold, preserve, promote and defend the dignity of every human being; to touch the hearts of those who oppress others and those who take the law in their hands; to touch the consciences of the perpetrators of heinous crimes, violence, senseless and indiscriminate killings; and to move them to abandon their pride and their instruments of destruction.”
Our bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and lay faithful who strive to walk the path of integrity, respect, unity, and service are models of a prophetic witnessing to a powerful love that turns our concrete service into a force for empowering transformation. We are united with them in our deep hope that the light of truth will illumine hearts and minds – the truth behind the charges, and the deeper truth around the underlying issues that cause the drug economy to persist and endure despite the thousands of killings. We share Cardinal Tagle’s prayer for them and the Filipino nation: “Since you, O God, are with us, nothing that has happened, nothing still to come can rob us of our hope in Christ. In your enduring love we trust.”
San Jose Seminary Community
Ateneo de Manila University Campus, Loyola Heights, Quezon City