The running priest, Fr. Robert Reyes, yesterday called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to speak out against human rights violations, because if they fail to do so, they will be accomplices in the crimes of those who kill.
Reyes and national leaders of the Partido Lakas ng Masa, at a press conference in Bacolod City, said they are in Negros Occidental to join a protest run in Escalante City today to mark the International Human Rights Day, and to continue to fight for justice in the city, where 28 alleged extra-judicial killings have occurred since 2007 during the incumbency of Mayor Melecio Yap.
“The cycle of extra-judicial killings must stop now,” Reyes said.
About 200 people, including relatives of victims of extra-judicial killings in Escalante and 15 wrestlers from Bacolod, are expected to join the run.
The activity, dubbed “A run for human rights and direct democracy”, aims to boost people empowerment to end human rights violations, PLM national secretary general Leody de Guzman said.
He said the bloody record in Escalante City is a symptom of a “lack of democracy” in the northern city.
The only key to end the killings in Escalante is to empower the masses as direct participants in governing the city, de Guzman said.
Reyes said he is not only running against human rights violations committed in Escalante, but in the entire country, including in the Yolanda-devastated areas.
The Catholic Church has been noisy about the reproductive health law and sexuality but has been quiet about human rights violations, which makes him angry, Reyes said.
We should be noisy about what is worse: contraceptives prevent life, while killing and murders end it, he said.
He is glad Pope Francis has taken a strong stand against human rights violations, Reyes said.
Reyes slammed President Aquino’s choice of former senator Panfilo Lacson as typhoon Yolanda rehabilitation czar.
“Yolanda” is about human rights violations, why appoint a human rights violator as the czar for rehabilitation when he himself needs rehabilitation? Reyes asked.
Citing Pope Francis, Reyes said human right violations are not only about shooting people, but about creating a system that kills people systematically.
The super typhoon’s devastation was not an act of God but was caused by human greed, abuse of nature, and bad politics, he said.
“Yolanda” should not be viewed as a natural disaster but a global political disaster that has led to global warming, he added.
He also said that when PAGASA warned of a super typhoon, people and the media were focused on the useless testimony of Janet Napoles in the Senate.
There was not enough focus on warning the public about “Yolanda”, he said.
He also called the accusations being hurled by senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Juan Ponce Enrile against each other in the Senate a circus.
“I think they should be charged with gross incompetence and gross disrespect of the Filipino people,” he said, noting that a lot of people’s money has been wasted listening to them and Napoles.
“How many human lives were wasted because focus was on a political issue, when a real disaster was about to happen?” he asked.*CPG