DAVAO CITY – Various groups here will hold several activities in time for the visit of Pope Francis, whom they called as the “Peoples’ Pope.”
Roger Macatol from the Kahiusahan sa mga Layko sa Mindanao (Kalami), a religious organization of lay people of the Roman Catholic church, said that the activities “will send a message to Pope Francis to continue his work for justice for the people.”
“The message of the Pope’s work is also for the lay, which comprises the biggest section of the church, that we should accompany the struggle of the people,” Macatol said in a press conference Tuesday.
Joel Virador of the National Federation of Labor Union (NAFLU) Mindanao said that the Pope spoke about the “struggles of poor countries when he speaks of the evil greed of corporations and imperialist countries.”
Virador showed the media a life-size poster replica of the Pope who said: “I address a strong appeal from my heart that the dignity and safety of the worker always be protected.”
The quote was lifted from a prayer of Pope Francis last August 28, 2013, which included his expression of sympathy for the more than 1,200 victims of a garment factory collapse in Bangladesh.
Workers at the western exporting garment complex in Bangladesh reportedly receive a monthly wage of $40. The Pope described the workers’ condition as “slave labor.”
“We would like to tell him that the Philippines is one of those countries. We would like the Pope to admonish the western countries to stop the aggression against sovereign countries like ours,” said Virador.
Virador said “these corporations with the aid of governments create anti-labor laws and policies that deny workers of their right to security of tenure, wages and benefits and right to form unions and organizations.”
Meanwhile, Pedro Arnado of farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (peasant movement of the Philippines) said that they hope to bring a message to the Pope “that the majority of the Filipino people who are farmers are suffering from landlessness and lack of government support.”
“The Philippines remains a country where landlords reign and farmers are in destitute. We want him to know how peasants are struggling but are met with persecution by state forces,” said Arnado.
Zain Mendoza of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) said, “Our struggle for education is the same elsewhere in poor countries and we should involve ourselves in the larger struggle of other sectors for change,” said Mendoza.
Mendoza said that the youth especially those in the church “should take the message of the Pope by heart to see society as a mission field and effect changes.”
Meanwhile, Hanimay Suazo said political prisoners in Tagum City would join a nationwide “hunger strike” from January 15-19 to call on the Pope to ask President Benigno Aquino III for their release.
“They are not ordinary criminals and should be released like how Cory, Noynoy’s mother, released political prisoners during her time,” said Suazo.
Suazo said that during the visit of Pope John Paul II, political prisoners also staged a similar activity and some of them were released. (davaotoday.com)