STANDPOINT | Democracy is resisting tyranny

Feb. 24, 2019

Statement by the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) on the 33rd anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolt

“You did not receive the Spirit of slavery.” – Romans 8:15

The Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) is highly concerned about the state of democracy in the country under President Rodrigo Duterte’s government. The political persecution of social activists, civil libertarians, human rights defenders and peace advocates has assaulted the constitutionally guaranteed principles of democracy and human rights, and caused irreparable damage on their sanctity.

The worsening arbitrary totalitarian rule that shamelessly unfolds before our eyes signals the deterioration of the state’s respect for human rights, valuation of human dignity, and respect for the common good. It adds great injury on our nation, which is now enduring the lashes of economic and social crises.

President Duterte’s government is treading down an erroneous path in its totalitarian pursuit. We see widening inequality and worsening adversity for the vast majority because of unabated bureaucratic corruption and a political turmoil birthed from the belly of a dictatorship that has held a violent tyrannical grip over the people.

The meritless arrest of several individuals such as peace advocate Rey Casambre and press freedom vanguard Maria Ressa; the thousands of incidents of vilification, harassment and killings under the government’s anti-communist rhetoric; and the unabated extrajudicial killings in urban-poor settings justified by the ruthless, fruitless war on drugs are all a colossal indication of how the rights of persons and organizations critical of the government have been threatened.

We urge President Duterte to stop using state security forces to intimidate, harass and threaten people working for much-needed social and political reforms. We demand that he refrain from criminalizing political dissent and from persecuting those who hold defiant views. Instead, President Duterte must address the prerequisites of social justice through political and economic reforms that redound to the common good.

As for ourselves, EBF will continue to embrace the Filipino people’s struggle for national democracy. Standing for the sovereign Filipino people, we offer ourselves in defense of human rights, protesting against the suppression of press freedom, condemning extrajudicial killings and the culture of impunity, fighting bureaucratic corruption, protecting the environment and resisting ecological plunder, and protecting our national sovereignty against foreign intervention.

Democracy without safeguards for our individual and collective rights is not democracy, for a democracy sans all of these is nothing but tyranny.

EBF Executive Board,

Bishop Deogracias Iniguez Jr
Roman Catholic Church

Bishop Rex Reyes Jr
Episcopal Church in the Philippines

Bishop Joel Tendero
United Church of Christ in the Philippines

Bishop Dindo Ranojo
Iglesia Filipina Independiente

Bishop Ciriaco Francisco
United Methodist Church

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