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Church-labor group pays tribute to heroes and victims ahead of Martial Law anniversary

Church-labor group pays tribute to heroes and victims ahead of Martial Law anniversary

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, chairperson of Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS). DIOCESE OF SAN CARLOS

By CBCP News

September 12, 2022

Manila, Philippines

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration, an alliance of church people and labor groups is remembering those who dedicated their lives against the dictatorship of the father of the country’s president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS), in a statement released Monday, said it joins the millions of Filipinos in remembering “one of the darkest periods” in the country’s history.

Its chairperson, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the San Carlos diocese, said the military rule led to the crackdown on activists, illegal arrests, detentions and torture.

With the death of thousands of human rights defenders, labor leaders, peasants and students, the bishop described Marcos Sr’s government as a “brutal and murderous regime”.

“As we celebrate this significant event, we remember and pay our highest tribute to thousands of men and women who defiantly faced the late dictator and offered their lives to the cause of peace, freedom, and justice,” Alminaza said.

“May we learn and be inspired by their heroic sacrifices as we face similar dark and uncertain times under President Bongbong Marcos Jr,” he said.

Fifty years ago, on Sept. 21, 1972, Marcos Sr declared martial law, imposing a military dictatorship that would last for more than a decade.

Human rights groups claimed that the 14-year military rule was marked by around 3,000 known extrajudicial killings, 35,000 documented tortures, 77 “disappeared,” and 70,000 incarcerations.

But until today, the bishop said that many workers and church people continue to face red-tagging and political repression in their cause for social justice.

“They are continuously being harassed, intimidated, and illegally arrested and detained,” Alminaza said.

In such situations, he said that church people are challenged to “to live out our prophetic vocation of defending the weak and standing up for the powerless and those who are silenced”.

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