THE ASSOCIATION of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) has taken to task the military for labeling missionaries as communists thereby putting them at great risk
“Red-tagging, accusing individuals and organizations as communist terrorists, is inimical to democracy and respect for human rights. In its most extreme, red-tagging, can lead to warrantless arrest, detention without charges, torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings,” the AMRSP said in a statement.
This, after AFP deputy chief of staff Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr tagged the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) as among organizations using European Union and Belgian funding to “radicalize” children in rural areas to help the Communist Party of the Philippines in its cause to topple the government.
“This is absurd. We are not a communist organization or a communist front. We are not financing terrorist activities through our projects. Our projects are all well-documented, audited, and accounted for,” Sister Elenita Belardo, RMP national coordinator, said in another press statement.
“Our tribal schools in Mindanao are efforts to reach those communities too far away from regular schools. Through our schools, Lumad children have access to education that the government was not able to provide,” she furthered.
Even as a number of RMP schools were granted permits by the Department of Education as part of the government’s Alternative Learning System, Belardo lamented that others have been deprived of the same which she could only surmise “as part of continued repression of indigenous peoples’ rights.”
For its part, the AMRSP enjoined the government to “Let the members of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines do their jobs where we in the government and church agencies have failed to go to address issues of peace, education, respect for life, freedom, dignity of persons, good governance and good politics in the far-flung rural areas.”
“We long, thirst, hunger and pray for social equity and just peace in our country,” it said.
In that prism of social justice, none but the color-blinded military could see anything red.