OUR dear Holy Father Francis and the PCOS-machine produced President of the Philippines will meet again at 9:15 a.m. today for the “Welcome Ceremony” in Malacañang. They met yesterday at Villamor Air Base. President Aquino kissed Pope Francis’ ring. May that be the beginning of a miracle, not another hypocritical act.
Let’s pray that Pope Francis’ radiation of holiness affects Mr. Aquino and converts him away from his ways—of dealing badly with fellow human beings, of neglecting to do the most urgent work that must be done, of pretending that his administration is leading our country on a Daang Matuwid (Righteous Path) when in fact he and his men have made the Philippine government wallow in worse corruption and criminality than before he became president, of making the economic inequality worse and the plight of the poor more bitter, of encouraging the destruction of our electoral democracy by not putting a stop to the tyranny of Smartmatic/PCOS-machines over our election system.
Different groups voiced appeals to Pope Francis on Thursday.
Among those was the KARAPATAN alliance for human rights. It said, “Pope Francis, stand with us for peace and justice.” It helped organize a Misang Bayan (People’s Mass) at Liwasang Bonifacio, during which relatives of political prisoners, who are now on hunger strike, offered red roses made of beads from woman political prisoners at the Correctional Institute for Women. They also offered a cross with painting done by Eduardo Sarmiento, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines who is detained at the New Bilibid Prisons. The painting depicts the plight and struggles of political prisoners and the role of the Church of the poor.
Also on Thursday, performance artists belonging to Sining Bugkos, Tindog People’s Network. Kabataang Artista para sa Kalayaan and Alay Sining held a “Mud Walk” to the Apostolic Nunciature from Saint. Anthony Church. They braved the tight security in the area.
Participants covered their bodies with mud to depict the plight of Yolanda victims and to raise to the Holy Father the victims’ unrelieved cry against injustices that they unceasingly experience under the Aquino administration. The groups said almost 15 months after the disaster, their call for social, environmental and climate justice remain unheard and unresolved.
The “mud walk” in Manila was mirrored by a simultaneous “mud walk” in Tacloban City.
The activity symbolized the prayer that “Together with the people of Eastern Visayas and other provinces affected by Yolanda and other calamities, may Pope Francis lift us out of the mud of social injustices and the lack of accountability from our government in terms of disaster preparedness and poor disaster response, relief and rehabilitation efforts.”
Extremely eloquent and heart-rending is the “appeal letter” sent also on Thursday to the Holy Father by People Surge—Survivors of Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan in Eastern Visayas—whose members will be among those he will meet in Tacloban on Saturday.
A part of the letter says:
“Even before Typhoon Yolanda, our region of Eastern Visayas was the second poorest in the country, with other areas hard hit by the typhoon not far behind. We have been cast even deeper into the pit of poverty. Peasants and fisherfolk, workers and urban poor, the lowly paid professionals—we all feel the lack of land, industries and progress. But a few wealthy and powerful families are among the richest in the world.
“Our lives are in ruins, Holy Father. We do not know to whom we can turn, because those in power do not see us nor respond to our cries. Our government failed to help us during our darkest moment. The people do not feel the trillion Philippine pesos in international humanitarian aid that the country has received. Even one year after the storm, the Aquino government is not fulfilling its mandate to serve the people. In fact, it has had no clear plan for helping the people get back on their feet and has relied instead on foreign aid and the profit-seeking private sector.
“We still see no light, Holy Father. Though the government offers its RAY or Reconstruction Assistance for Yolanda, we struggle for our daily rice and fish.”
“We know no peace, Holy Father. When the poor raise their voices to cry for justice and peace, the rich and powerful rulers are offended by our sound and continue to oppress us. These poor people are branded as communists. Two have already laid down their lives in the journey for justice for the survivors. Many communities are under the rule of the gun wielded by the government….”
“Long live the Pope!!!”