Activism is not terrorism

Activism is not terrorism
Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.

Isaiah 56: 1

NASSA/Caritas Philippines is the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). We stand to adhere, defend and protect the rights and welfare of the Filipino people, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable. We uphold, recognize and put forward the rights of nature and all ecosystems.

As such, we provide constant opposition to government actions when we see them unfit and unjust especially to indigenous peoples, peasants, fisher folks, women, children and all the other marginalized sectors, like the government-backed Kaliwa Dam construction.

We demand for transparency and accountability from our civil servants, especially in cases when the use of public funds and facilities, and the delivery of services are questionable, like in the case of the Typhoon Yolanda rehabilitation and the Marawi reconstruction.

We pressure politicians, the police and government leaders when deliberate inaction and disregard of due process happen like the immobilized agrarian reform program. We organize communities, and stress for active participation in decision and policy-making, like pushing for the legislation of Right to Food and Rights of Nature.

We give decisive views and analyses of government actions, especially when we see them detrimental and threaten the very values of freedom, respect, justice and compassion, like the Anti-Terrorism Bill.

If what we do constitutes terror acts, then what else is not? If every dissent and opposition can be considered terrorism, who else will be free? If all the powerful in government can label anyone a terrorist, what else can they not do?

Activism is not terrorism.

We cannot let this happen. This not only intolerable, this is inhuman, unjust and unlawful. Thus we urge everyone to register opposition against the bill which to our firm belief will further re-enforce tyranny and totalitarianism.

We at NASSA/Caritas Philippines condemn in the strongest terms, the blatant manoeuvring of the legislative processes and the rule of law to suppress legitimate dissent, and to criminalize or to arbitrarily brand as terrorists those who are perceived to be opposing the administration. We denounce the obvious circumvention of the democratic processes just to obey and please the self-interests of the legislators and the autocratic rule of the president.

We enjoin all nation-loving Filipinos not to allow our government officials, especially from the executive and legislative departments, to prioritize giving solutions to the pandemic crisis, and never to curtail the democratic rights of the Filipinos. The anti-terror bill violates the rights of our people and makes a mockery of our Constitution.

It is our prayer that once the constitutionality of this bill is brought to the attention of the Supreme Court, our honourable justices will exhibit sense of fairness, impartiality and trustworthiness. They must live up to their being the last pillars of democracy and rule of law in our country.

#JunkTheTerrorBillNow #FilipinosDeserveBetter

Most Rev. JOSE COLIN M. BAGAFORO
National Director, NASSA/Caritas Philippines
Chairman, Episcopal Commission on Social Action Justice and Peace