500 Years of Christianity Countdown

Umapela si Diocese of San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza sa lahat ng mga mananampalataya na ipanalangin ang pagbabalik loob at ‘change of heart’ ng mga bumubuo sa administrasyong Duterte at Philippine National Police.

Ito ang apela ng Obispo sa panawagan na ipatigil at muling suriin ang implementasyon sa buong bansa ng “pro-death” Oplan Sauron at ng Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations (SEMPO) na nagsimula sa Negros Island.

Partikular na nanawagan si Bishop Alminaza kay Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte at PNP Chief Debold Sinas kung saan binalikan ng Obispo ang mga serye ng karanasan na naganap sa ilalim ng “one-time, big-time” SEMPO sa ilalim ng nasabing Oplan Sauron na noon ay pinamumunuan ni PNP Provincial Regional Office-7 Director Debold Sinas and PNP Chief Rogelio “Bato” Dela Rosa.

Iginiit ni Bishop Alminaza na nagdulot ng karahasan at maraming napaslang sa nasabing operasyon na kadalasang isinasagawa tuwing dis-oras ng gabi.

Matatandaang bago ang pagtatapos ng taong 2020 ay kinundina ng Obispo ang panibagong serye ng karahasan na naganap sa Panay Island kung saan siyam na Tumandok indigenous peoples ang nasawi sa pinagsamang operasyon ng mga pulis at sundalo noong ika-30 ng Disyembre.

Ayon kay Bishop Alminaza, hindi kailaman maituturing na isang tagumpay ang pagpaslang sa mga walang laban lalu na sa mga katutubo na pawang inaakusahang kalaban ng pamahalaan nang walang sapat na ebidensya.

Iginiit ng Obispo na hindi dapat mangibabaw ang karahasan sa paraan ng pagsugpo sa kriminalidad.

Umaasa naman ang Obispo na sa papalapit na pagdiriwang ng ika-500 taon ng Kristyanismo sa Pilipinas ay tuluyan ng mabuksan ang kamalayan ng administrasyon Duterte kaugnay sa mga marahas na programa at akbidad ng pamahalaan.

OPEN LETTER
To President Duterte and PNP Chief Sinas:

Serve the God of Peace;

Stop Sauron, the Lord of Evil!

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.”(Colossians 3:15)

In a few months, the Church celebrates the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines, a gift of enormous grace.

As we are called to ponder on the meaning of Christ coming into our lives, we ask all Filipinos to pray for discernment and a change of heart within the Duterte government and the Philippine National Police (PNP), to reconsider and STOP implementing in the rest of the country, Oplan Sauron and the Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations (SEMPO) started in Negros Island.

We recall with sadness that the “one-time, big-time” SEMPO under Oplan Sauron by then-PNP Provincial Regional Office-7 Director Debold Sinas and PNP Chief Rogelio “Bato” Dela Rosa led to violent killings and arrests:

1) In December 2018, six people were killed and 26 were arrested in the towns of Guihulngan, Mabinay, and Sta. Catalina in Negros Oriental, for allegedly being in possession of firearms and explosives.

2) In March 2019, 14 farmers who were only suspected members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) were killed during the implementation of different search warrants in Negros Oriental.
These operations were carried out mostly during wee hours, and the farmers were shot under unproven claims that they fought it out -“nanlaban”.

Whether this is true or not, what is starkly apparent is that this violence has failed to bring lasting peace and instead bred a culture of even more violence and disrespect for our people. Under the Duterte administration and Oplan Sauron alone, there are now over 106 cases of unsolved extrajudicial killings recorded in Negros island.

The December 30, 2020 massacre of nine (9) and mass arrest of 17 leaders and members of the Tumandok tribe in Tapaz, Capiz disturbingly follow the same pattern of the SEMPO that claimed the lives of poor farmers and other civilians in Negros Island.

We are alarmed as these recent killings in Capiz demonstrate how Oplan Sauron and Sempo will be implemented throughout the country.

The word “Sauron” that refers to a fictional character of “The Lord of the Rings”, meaning “the abhorred” or “the abominable”, is directed against the perceived enemies of the state.

However, history and our faith teach us that systematic violence and killings can never lead us to the path of peace. We reiterate that only through addressing the roots of the conflict, integral development and dialogue can we achieve lasting peace.

As we celebrate the blessings of 500 years of Christianity, we call on President Duterte and PNP Chief Sinas to stop implementing these pro-death Oplan Sauron and SEMPO in Negros and the rest of the country.

It is never Christian to kill. We ask our brothers and sisters to pray that the God of Peace reign, NOT the Dark Lord, Sauron.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, D.D.
Diocese of San Carlos