Solidarity message to the 54th anniversary of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General, August 25, 2023

Love that is real and active!

I read the said line in publications of the Rural Missionaries in the Philippines in Northern Mindanao more than a decade ago, and I can’t get enough of the essence and the reality of that line that is the history and lived experience of the brave, the compassionate, the diligent workers of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.

Human rights workers of Karapatan across generations are witness to how such line embodies the body of work and significant contribution of the RMP into the lives of the poorest, the most neglected and the most persecuted communities and individual Filipinos.

We are witness to the courage of RMP workers in braving the most militarized communities during fact-finding and humanitarian missions to provide moral and material support for indigenous peoples and peasants – the rural poor. Since martial law, RMP has never wavered in upholding human rights, justice, truth and love of country. The power of love that is real and active is expressed through prayers for, and standing with the victims of human rights violations and their families and communities.

We are witness to the compassion of RMP workers in providing crucial and life-saving support for a great majority of Filipinos battered by disasters often attributed to natural causes but are really driven by greed and hostility by big companies and the moneyed and powerful in the countryside. Oh how many storms, storm surges, earthquakes, floods have RMP workers endured to provide food, shelter, medicines and yes, comfort and real solidarity! The power of love that is real and active is manifested in RMP’s work that encourages both charity and solidarity.

We are witness to the diligence of RMP workers in putting up alternative learning institutions for children and youth deprived of education that is relevant, comprehensive and truly responsive to the needs of rural communities. However way they denigrate these schools, one thing is clear – RMP had been instrumental in promoting a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education that is most deserved by our young people – in contrast to the current state of our educational system which sees young people as mere commodities in a labor market and stripped of dignity of work.

Hence, by all accounts, RMP workers deserve a most grateful salute and commendation, not persecution. RMP workers are not terrorists, they are among the best of our peoples, our nation, and we need to stand with them ever stronger than before.

The line – love that is real and active – is not only a description of RMP’s work. It is likewise a call to everyone – our people and our Inang Bayan need love that is real and active. Especially during these times of worsening economic crisis and hunger that dehumanizes the majority especially the rural and indigenous communities, especially during these times of lies and darkness and the most brutal of political storms, especially during these times that love of country is costed so cheaply by those in power while they pocket millions from the poor’s hard-earned money, especially during these times that we need to be together, to be stronger and to be more tenacious in persevering for our fellow Filipinos.

It is a call for everyone, and RMP has said it eloquently. The time for solidarity is now, the time to act to support RMP is now. Magandang umaga at mabuhay ang RMP!