Karapatan: Hands off Bishop Alminaza!

Karapatan threw its support behind San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza after he and other church people were red-tagged during the SMNI television program “Laban Kasama ang Bayan.”

Branding him a “mouthpiece of the CPP,” Alminaza was criticized for calling for the resumption of the formal peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and for decrying political prisoner and NDFP peace consultant Frank Fernandez’s unjust detention as well as the irregularities surrounding his arrest.

In a rejoinder to SMNI’s tirades, Bishop Alminaza said, “We should never be afraid, but rather be brave in speaking for the truth on behalf of the victims of injustice.”

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said, “While we laud Bishop Alminaza’s courage, we cannot help but be concerned for his safety and security as well as that of other church workers active in their justice and peace ministries, since verbal attacks by SMNI and other State actors are often a prelude to physical attacks against the victims of red-tagging.”

The bishop, who is also one of the convenors of the church-based Pilgrims for Peace, likewise assailed the human rights violations, killings and militarization in Negros, adding that in the island alone, there were some 200 political prisoners.

Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said, “We have nothing but the greatest respect and admiration for Bishop Alminaza for standing up for his principles and refusing to bow down to pressure from the SMNI, which has unjustly branded him a ‘terrorist,’ and his advocacies ‘demonic’ and ‘diabolical.’”

Bishop Alminaza is in the right when he assailed the State’s militarist response to mass disconent and called for the need to address the roots of the armed conflict in the country, said Palabay. “Those who genuinely work for peace based on justice like Bishop Alminaza deserve the people’s support, while peace spoilers like those behind the SMNI program deserve condemnation,” she concluded.