A protesting and fighting Black Saturday to all of us. On behalf of the Europe Network for Justice and Peace in the Philippines (ENJPP) I thank you all for joining with us in this Black Saturday protest.

We have just heard the unimaginable and very worrisome situation of injustices in the Philippines from all over the provinces and cities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao ranging from harassments, threats, intimidations, to unlawful arrests as results of irregular issuance of search and arrest warrants via trumped-up charges and worst are killings and massacres that happened almost every day after being tagged and vilified as communists and terrorists. Victims are the activists, leaders, and members of the people’s movement – the laborers, the poor peasants, the lumads and indigenous peoples, women’s movements, urban poor organizations, fisherfolks, the professionals – the officers of the courts – including human rights lawyers, the teachers, the religious leaders – their organizations and churches and the members of the press – especially the independent and critical media.

The US-China Duterte Regime’s tyrannical rule does not distinguish the armed from un-armed and legal movements and opposition personalities in its anti-insurgency campaigns which resulted to the wanton killings and gross violations of the people’s rights in the Philippines led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflicts with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police together with the supposed to be civilian agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and many others which are now headed by retired police and military generals in a Whole of Nation Approach worsened by the Anti-Terror Law of 2020. Even during this holy week which is a meaningful and important time for the Filipino people for reflection and contemplation of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ being a Christian nation the killings and violations against the people’s rights continues perpetrated and ordered by state security forces who themselves claimed to be Christians and believers.

These injustices cannot go on. Today, 3rd of April 2021, being the Black Saturday of the Holy Week, the Europe Network for Justice and Peace in the Philippines takes the lead in calling for the formation of a Europe-wide and even a global alliance, to defend the Filipino people and to launch the Defend Philippines or DEFEND PH! Movement.

We call on the Filipino compatriots and their organizations, solidarity groups, churches and religious institutions and networks for justice, peace, and human rights here in Europe to come together and join us in this movement and to call on governments in Europe to defend the Philippines by calling, initiating, and installing sanctions using the European Magnitsky Law and human rights and justice mechanisms in the European Laws, and the institutions of the United Nations, International Criminal Court, the European Union and many others.

We are reminded today of the famous poem of a German Theologian, Rev Martin Niemöller.

“They came first for the Communists, and I did not speak up because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionist, and I did not speak up because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

In the Philippines, Atty. Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers has this recent version with my one-line insertion…

“First, they came for the drug users, and I did not speak out – because I was not a drug user.

Then they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the activists, and I did not speak out – because I was not an activist.

Then they came for the journalist, and I did not speak out – because I was not a journalist.

Then they came for the religious leaders, and I did not speak out – because I was not a religious leader.

Then they came for the lawyers, and I did not speak out – because I was not a lawyer.

Then they came for the judges, and I did not speak out – because I was not a judge.

Then they came for me – and there was no one to speak left to speak for me.”

Today we have heard the Filipino people’s cry for justice. Now is the time to speak out and act for justice!

Stop the Attacks in the Philippines!

Abolish NTF-ELCAC!

Oust Duterte Now!

Oppressed peoples of the world, Unite!

The Right Revd Antonio N. Ablon, IFI Europe

Coordinator, Europe Network for Justice and Peace in the Philippines

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