CONDEMN VEHEMENTLY THE VIOLENT DISPERSAL OF NUTRIASIA WORKERS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS! FREE IMMEDIATELY ALL DETAINED STUDENTS, WORKERS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS! Statement of Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy University of the Philippines, Diliman on the Violent Dispersal of Workers and their Supporters at NutriAsia, Bulacan 30 July 2018
We, the members of CONTEND UP, express our strongest condemnation of the violent dispersal of the workers and their supporters at NutriaAsia, Bulacan on July 31, 2018. After an ecumenical mass, the workers and their supporters, led by Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia, Inc., were violently dispersed by the Marilao police and the security forces of NutriAsia. The workers, who are on strike since June 4, are demanding regularization and better working condition. But they were meted out with brutal dispersal by the combined forces of the police and security forces of NutriAsia using truncheons that resulted to the arrest of 19 workers and their supporters, including University of the Philippines Diliman students, Jon Bonifacio, MBB major, outgoing College of Science Council Publicity Officer, and Psalty Caluza, incoming 4th year Journalism student.
As teachers and workers at the University of the Philippines, we stand firmly with our students, Jon Bonifacio and Psalty Caluza, as they supported the just demands of the NutriAsia workers. Some of us had already went to the picket of NutriaAsia to listen to the real stories of the workers that are often silenced, if not muffled, in dominant media news and reports. We invited some striking workers to share their repulsive experiences with NutriaAsia with our students and UP workers. In these dialogues, our students expressed disgust against the management of NutriAsia while sympathizing with the workers’ struggle.
As the national University that upholds social justice and respect for human rights, it is only expected of our students, workers and teachers to immerse themselves with the workers as part of their continuing education. Immersing in the lives of the marginalized sectors of our society, especially the workers, has been part of the radical tradition of our University. These are opportunities to broaden learning, to try out new ideas, and to do engaged and participatory research. As educators we value the wisdom of the past and present activists educated by our University that education does not only consist in the formal settings of the classrooms. Education also includes real and passionate engagement with the lives of our fellow poor Filipinos who are excluded from social progress and economic growth.
We are therefore alarmed when the police and security forces of NutriaAsia falsely indicted our students of possessing fire arms and drugs so that they could arrest and detain them. These sickening schemes of the police, which they perfected against poor criminals in the notorious Operation Tokhang, should be exposed and denounced. We demand the immediate release of our students and all other individuals arrested and detained including Einstein Recedes, Anakbayan Secretary General and Mark Quinto of the League of Filipino Students. They should be treated humanely and should be given speedy proper medical attention.
We call on our fellow teachers and educational workers to stand with our students who are now victims of chilling state repression. The violent dispersal at NutriAsia today is just a symptom of the failure of the US-Duterte regime to end contractual labor and uplift the worsening condition our workers. If we truly stand for social justice and human rights, then, it is our duty as educators to support striking workers. We do not teach our students to become docile workers in the future who will simply allow their basic rights to be violated. We cannot provide transformative education if the future of our students is compromised by cheap contractual labor and rampant violations of workers’ rights. This is not the future we wish for our graduates.
Release the UP students Jon Bonifacio and Psalty Caluza now!
Hold the police and the security forces of NutriAsia accountable for the violent dispersal of the workers and their supporters!
Denounce state fascism!
End contractualization now!
Iskolar ng bayan, maglingkod sa bayan!
FELLOW TEACHERS, LET US RISE UP AND JOIN OUR PATRIOTIC PEOPLE AND PROGRESSIVE ORGANIZATIONS TO EXPOSE AND DENOUNCE THE LIES AND DECEIT IN PRESIDENT DUTERTE’S 3RD STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS Statement of Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy-University of the Philippines on the 3rd SONA of President Duterte 23 July 2018
The members of CONTEND UP today join our patriotic people and all progressive sectors of our society as we swarm the streets of Commonwealth Avenue to stage the historic United People’s SONA that will expose the deceit and lies in Pres. Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA). After two years in power, the US-China Duterte regime has already revealed its beastly nature. Against the trumpeting of a 6.8-percent growth rate of our economy for the first quarter of 2018 by Duterte’s economic doctors, we face the harsh reality: our inflation rate was 5.2 percent in May 2018. The “amazing” growth rate of our economy hides the fact that the stagnant wage of our workers remains too meager to cope with rising costs of living triggered by peso depreciation, the anti-poor TRAIN law, and the fluctuation of crude oil in world market. More horrendous is the fact that, when a family of six should earn at least PHP 1,169 a day, the wage gap remains at 56 percent. And most horrifying of all: amidst economic growth, we have the highest unemployment rate in Asia, at 9.1 percent, according to the IBON Foundation.
The US-China-Duterte trinity of dictatorship will spend 7.4 percent of our GDP for infrastructure under the build, build, build program (BBB) in 2022. To garner funding for these ambitious pro-oligarchs projects, the government has implemented the TRAIN law and borrowed heavily from China. In 2016, the government increased its grants to 412 percent, amounting to USD 15.6 billion. Our debt now stands at PHP 6.8 trillion, from PHP 5.9 trillion since Duterte took over. We face a looming debt bomb!
The funding for these infrastructure projects will redound to big business—those of the Ayalas, Angs, Cojuangcos, and other billionaires who will implement these projects concentrated in the National Capital Region. As if these hearty concessions to the oligarchs are not enough, Duterte and his dogs in the legislative branch of the government are desperately pushing for constitutional change to further open up the economy to foreign control and domination.
While the big business and foreign enterprises, through imports, will reap the benefits of the BBB programs, our workers continue to suffer from dehumanizing wages. Forced by the immiserating conditions of work, workers staged strikes to call for the end of contractualization in PLDT, Jollibee, NurtiaAsia, Middleby, and other labor enclaves.
Meanwhile, despite Duterte’s promise to end contractual labor, the government remains the largest employer of contractual labor. Last year, more than 27 percent of the 2.4 million government workers, or 660,390, were “job order” (JO) or “contract-of-service” (COS) employees. Unable to find jobs, our poor fellow Filipinos are forced to leave their families to work abroad. We sent 5,460 Filipinos abroad daily in 2017! And this means many Filipino families are separated for the sake of economic survival.
Those who choose to stay and look for jobs become “tambays.” But our government has tagged them as criminal elements. Unable to solve housing problems, unable to provide decent employment, the government has unleashed its sinister anti-tambay drive that already nabbed 5,500 tambays in June. This has augmented the human rights violation under Oplan Tokhang.
Amidst this crisis, our people has intensified the struggle and resistance against the mounting fascism of the US-Duterte regime. In this struggle, religious and church workers have raised their voices to oppose and denounce an anti-poor President. As a result, the Church and its workers have become the targets of state terrorism—as seen in the murders of priests. Foreign missionaries, such as Sister Patricia Fox, who express solidarity with our poor and suffering people, have also been harassed by state’s forces.
Our women have also mobilized to denounce the unrelenting misogyny of Duterte against women who courageously stood against his reign of terror. Time and again, Duterte has shown his chauvinistic nature by belittling and denigrating the capacity of women such as Chief Justice Sereno, Sis. Pat, Ombudsman Carpio-Morales, and Senator de Lima, and openly promoting discrimination and abuse of women!
Finally, unable to address the root causes of the communist armed struggle, the US-Duterte regime chose the path of counter-insurgency, vilification of legal activist groups, and all-out war against communities suspected as being part of the communist base. Duterte has miserably failed in his promise to address the structural causes of the communist armed revolution. His military lapdogs have, without respite, sabotaged any hope for peaceful resolution of the conflicts. The Lumad and indigenous communities are, at this moment, fleeing their lands because of militarization. The military continues to harass and intimidate them wherever they go, even to cramped and dismal evacuation centers. Duterte’s military forces, in the service of rapacious corporations, seem happy to snuff out the lives of our indigenous peoples.
Assaulted from all sides with economic woes, with human rights violations that murder our poor neighbors, we rise up today to say: ENOUGH! STOP! As teachers and workers in the educational sector, we cannot remain indifferent to the reign of terror of Duterte. We cannot remain indifferent when our economy is being run according to anti-poor, pro-oligarch policies. We cannot turn a blind eye when our children become indebted to China and worshipers of US imperialism.
Thus, we urge all patriotic and progressive teachers and educational workers to unite and stand together to stop the rampaging misogynist fascism of Duterte. We join mass protests today because, as educators, we are convinced that joining our people on the streets is a form of teaching. Our presence in the protest is a performative act of teaching our people that we stand for human rights and for a humane and just future for our children.
DOWN WITH THE MISOGYNIST FASCISM OF THE US-CHINA-DUTERTE REGIME!
DOWN WITH FEUDALISM!
DOWN WITH IMPERIALISM!
END STATE IMPUNITY!
JUSTICE TO ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!
END CONTRACTUAL LABOR NOW!
FIGHT FOR 750 MINIMUM WAGE!
STOP LUMAD KILLINGS!
NO TO CHARTER CHANGE!
CONGRATULATIONS BATCH 2018! USE YOUR EDUCATION TO ADVANCE OUR PEOPLE’S STRUGGLE AGAINST THE TYRANNY OF THE US-DUTERTE DICTATORSHIP! Statement of Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy on the 107th Commencement Exercises of UP Diliman 24 June 2018
The members of CONTEND UP Diliman express their sincerest congratulations to all the graduates of Batch 2018! As you wear your sablay proudly today, do not forget the duty and responsibility of the iskolar ng bayan, which we carry even after graduation: SERVE THE PEOPLE!
It is during your stay at the University that free education, for all its shortcomings, was granted to the iskolar ng bayan. You know very well that the free education that you enjoyed was not given to you on a silver platter. Generations of iskolar ng bayan, with their teachers and University workers, fought hard and unremmittingly for you to enjoy this right today.
In your time, our nation saw the unfolding of our popular President as a dictator and tyrant. You witnessed how President Duterte rehabilitated the image of the Marcoses by allowing the dictator to be interned at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and whitewashing the Marcos family’s crimes against the people. You joined thousands of other students, and our people, who immediately took to the streets to protest such treachery and historical revisionism.
You were in UP when fake news, crafted by reactionary elements to immobilize the people’s movements, became an epidemic, and you used your critical skills to unravel and discredit them, contributing to mass awareness and protest.
In your stay in the University, you witnessed the unparalleled exodus of Lumad, Moros, and other national minorities from of their communities because of militarization and human rights abuses. As they marched to Manila during Lakbayan, you welcomed them to our University and supported their cause. You listened to their stories of repression and struggle. Some of your fellow iskolar ng bayan even went to Lumad communities to volunteer as teachers.
As Duterte’s tyranny intensified, as the war on drugs dragged on, as thousands of suspected drug users—some of them young people like you—were killed daily, as Malacanang forced its way into controlling the judicial branch of the government, as President Duterte indulged on insulting women and his minions busied themselves defending him, as the peace talks between the government and CPP/NDF/NPA broke down, as the President threatened to burn the Lumad schools, as our government failed to defend our sovereignty against imperialist incursion of China, you did not remain callous and indifferent. The iskolar ng bayan noisily went out on massive walkouts and strikes that caught the attention of the President. You stood courageously amidst the social media vilification of UP students. Undeterred, you continued to stage more organized and bigger walkouts to denounce martial law in Mindanao, the killing of poor suspected drug users, and the harassment of human rights defenders.
As your teachers, we are proud that you are graduating today—because we know that you will continue the struggle that you have advanced while studying in our University. If young people today are busy pursuing success in their careers, you should pursue the welfare of our people, especially the poor, the farmers, contractual workers, and urban poor who are the hardest hit by the anti-people policies of the US-Duterte regime. You must build your career and achieve professional growth while fulfilling your mission as proud children of our University.
In your struggle to be the best in the profession you have chosen, never lose sight of our nation’s future. A prosperous and just future is your gift to the next generations of iskolar ng bayan. It may not be your task to finish the struggle, but you also do not have the right to shirk from it. This is the time you will step out into the world—but it is a world fraught with crisis, and UP has taught you how to respond: merge your strength and voice with that of the people!
Mabuhay ang mga Iskolar ng Bayan!
Iskolar ng Bayan, serve the people!
Fight for a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education!
Volunteer for Lumad schools!
Stop the militarization of Lumad schools and communities!
Save our schools, stop Lumad killings!
CONTINUE OUR FIGHT FOR NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE! HONOR OUR REVOLUTIONARY HEROES BY RESISTING ALL FORMS OF IMPERIALISM THAT PLUNDER OUR ECONOMY, EXPLOIT OUR PEOPLE, AND DESTROY THE FUTURE PATRIMONY OF OUR NATION Statement of Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy on the 120th Anniversary of the Declaration of Philippine Independence 12 June 2018
The members of UP CONTEND Diliman join our people today as we celebrate our 120th Independence Day! Today, we must look back at our history to relearn the lessons of our people’s resistance against Spanish colonialism and US imperialism. We should not forget the treachery of the US imperialists who pretended to be our friends so they could annex our country. We should learn from the duplicity of our ilustrados, the “unFilipino” Filipinos, who sold our sovereignty to colonial masters, those who willingly collaborated with the new slave-owners, supposedly in the name of peace, social order, prosperity, mutual cooperation, and economic development. The apologies of ilustrados in behalf of imperialism are now reverberating in the halls of the branches of our government, and parroted by Duterte’s economic managers.
Our independence did not commence on June 12, 1898. As a statesman once said, “Colonies do not cease to be colonies because they are independent.” June 12 was a formal declaration of the Philippines as a sovereign republic that the American colonial government derisively pooh-poohed! June 12 was the beginning of another, more sinister form of colonial servitude. So we celebrate our Independence Day by remembering the sacrifices of our heroes Andres Bonifacio, Gregoria de Jesus, Trinidad Tecson, Gregorio del Pilar, Antonio Luna, Miguel Malvar, Macario Sacay, Vicente Lukban, and our Muslims revolutionaries, such as Datu Salikula, Datu Sirungan, Rajah Buisan, and Ma’as Jikiri, who resisted to death the Spaniards and US imperialist expansion. Unlike the unpatriotic ilustrados, they refused to be fooled by the imperialist rhetoric of benevolent assimilation. Thus, we denounce the horrible crimes perpetrated against our freedom-loving people, who took arms and raised the banner of independence.
Today, as we celebrate our Independence Day, let us continue to remember the genocide committed by Spanish colonizers and US imperialists that took the lives of 1.4 million Filipinos. We must repudiate the attempts of new imperialists, such as China—now posturing as our ally. While China drowns Duterte in financial aid, our long-time neocolonial master, the US, is providing Duterte with military and intelligence support. Our independent foreign policy is hostaged by bogus US military protection and Chinese economic aid.
Our independence cannot be bought by the price of immiserating our people in debt, destruction of the environment, and killing our own people in the name of anti-terrorism based on proxy wars. Globalization that promotes free trade and dismantling of our sovereignty through tariffs and trades must be repudiated. Aid and assistance—even for disasters—must be rejected if they are means to extract future concessions from our people.
As educators and teachers, we must teach a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education. Such orientation values history, not simply as recollection of past events and faithful narration of facts, but as a weapon of our people to resist tyranny and oppression. We must teach the “usable past” to our students so they will not be snared by the false propaganda of our government, that portrays imperialism as a benign force that will lift us from poverty. Our national liberation does not lie in the hands of colonial rule. We must smash the indoctrination of our students, which leads them to revere America as liberator of our people. We must heed the lessons of the past, which have revealed the US to be a historic and modern-day global aggressor and invader, war monger and profiteer, despite claiming to help preserve democracy all over the world.
It is our solemn duty as educators to correct our distorted history. We have to use history to decolonize the minds of our students, who were brainwashed to believe that the US, its liberal democracy, and American culture present the best of all possible worlds. We also have to challenge the aggressive expansion of China as we form solidarity with other nations in Asia against these rogue states.
Let us wean our students from miseducation. As a people, we must learn how to stand on our own feet. As revolutionaries often say, we should prefer to die on our feet fighting, than kneel to our masters as long as we live. It is the sovereign right of the Filipino people to decide on what is best for them rather than rely on the economic policies, international treaties, and mutual agreements being offered by imperialists in sheep’s clothing.
So today, we shout:
Long live Philippine independence!
Down with imperialism!
Defend our patrimony and sovereignty!
Struggle for independent foreign policy!
Junk the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)!
Junk the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)!
US troops out now!
No to China’s incursion in our territories!
Fight for nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education!
FORCEFULLY OPPOSE AND RESIST DUTERTE’S DICTATROSHIP BY UPHOLDING THE CONSTITUTION AND SUPPORTING CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO Statement of Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy on the Decision of Supreme Court Ousting Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno 16 May 2018
We, the members of Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy UP Diliman, express our extreme disgust against the decision of Supreme Court’s 8-6 vote last Friday, May 11, that granted Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition to remove effectively Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice for failure to file statements of assets, liabilities and net worth and other allegations.
If these allegations are justified, we believe with many legal experts and luminaries, that the proper Constitutional path that should be followed is impeachment, a process by which the House of Representatives brings charges against Chief Justice Sreno in the Senate, which tries the case and either convicts or absolves her.
We stand with the dissenting voices of numerous sectors of our society condemning the Supreme Court’s decision as unconstitutional and dangerous as it opens up the Pandora’s box towards ousting all other appointed officials who do not sit well with the polices of the US-Duterte regime. If the decision takes effect immediately, we fear that it will pave the way for the unhampered march of Pres. Duterte to wielding absolute power. President Duterte now controls indirectly the two other equal branches of our government. If Pres. Duterte acquires absolute power by making use of the two other but equal branches of the government, who will stand on his way against declaring national martial law? Of amending the Constitution? Or waging brutal war against drugs? Of resolving the election protest of Bongbong Marcos? And even ceding our territories to China?
As educators we stand with the progressive and patriotic sectors of our nation who are clamoring for the rejection, if not, reversal of the Supreme Court’s decision. We believe that as educators, we cannot teach our students the value of law, the supremacy of the Constitution, and the accountability of our elected and appointed state officials, if we make a travesty of our Constitution and democratic processes.
We will support legal actions that will use and exhaust all constitutional means to contest and remedy the decision. We will conduct public discussions to educate our people about this historic decision. But we will also join the militant sectors of our society that will form a broad coalition to support Chief Justice Sereno.
As educators we believe that this is not just simple legal scuffle. It is essentially political and ideological. Pres. Duterte himself personally declared war against Sereno: “I’m putting you on notice that I’m your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court.” This brazen and macho pomposity of the President has already incarcerated Sen. Leila De Lima, tagged Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples as “terrorist”, Sis. Patricia Fox as “undesirable alien”, and Chito Gascon of Commission on Human Rights as a “pedophile” for defending the youth killed in Oplan Tokhang. More sinister is the tagging of all potential enemies of the state as “terrorists” including legal Leftist groups.
Hence our support for CJ Sereno is not about conflicts among political personalities. It is not even about vendetta in relation to the impeachment of former CJ Corona and the “yellow” party. What we all face now is the looming hideous hegemony of US-Duterte dictatorship. We therefore must firmly stand against this terrifying nemesis that is now creepily engulfing our people and social institutions. As G. K. Chesterton once put it, “People talk about the impatience of the populace; but sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. It is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists.”
We stand with Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno!
Junk the quo warranto decision against CJ Sereno!
Uphold the Constitution against US-Duterte dictatorship!
Justice to all victims of Human Rights Violations!
Down with state fascism!
Photo from: http://www.manilatoday.net/groups-angered-at-supreme-court-removal-of-sereno/ (accessed May 15, 2018)
HONOR KARL MARX ON HIS 200TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY BY THOROUGHLY LEARNING THE BASIC TENETS OF MARXISM AND CORRECTLY APPLYING THEM TO OUR CURRENT SITUATION Statement of Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy on the Bicentennial Birth Anniversary of Karl Marx 5 May 2018
Today, the members of CONTEND UP honor the 200th birth anniversary of the great revolutionary leader and thinker, Karl Marx (1818-1883). We join all progressive and militant workers all over the world, who are also staging educational festivals, film showings, conferences, public gatherings, debates, lectures, and book launches to acknowledge the continuing relevance of Marx’s ideas in our contemporary situations.
Indeed, a specter is haunting global capitalism today, now in deep crisis. To exorcise the specter of Marx, many conservative scholars and postmodern academics are organizing conferences and journals to refute Marx’s ideas and condemn him again and again to the dustbin of history. The CEOs of big business in the cities around the world are just too happy to cite Marx’s ideas while scoffing at his so-called prophetic predictions. Many former followers and admirers of Marx, who have been baptized in the churches of postmodernism, are now denouncing their “faith” in the man, and the movement his ideas gave birth to. Some intellectuals, in order to get credit for knowing Marx and his ideas, even reminisce about their flirtation with Marxism in their youth. But they claim that age has given them wisdom to see through the follies of Marx and his impractical ideas.
Yet, no matter how these choruses try to dispel and discredit Marx, his ideas, and the movements that he inspired, the specter of Marx keeps hounding them and the current slave-owners. Contrary to the hopes of the exploiters and their yes-men, the movements seeking to overthrow capitalist exploitation and all its ugly spawns, such as racism and patriarchy, are multiplying every day.
As educators, we honor the greatness of the man who showed the oppressed the way to liberation, and continues to terrify modern-day slave-owners. We also recognize the immense contributions of Marx to the scientific study of the logic and trajectory of capitalism. Today Marx’s prescient analysis is still able to explain the accelerating global inequality as cyclical crisis of global capitalism immiserates further the poor and the working class. This crisis threatens not only humanity but our natural environment. The proxy wars and wars of aggression being waged by imperialist countries are last-ditch effort of global capitalism to save itself from self-destruction by overproduction.
As educators, we are convinced that Marx’s materialist analysis of history and social transformation provides the correct framework for us to understand our current education crisis generated by neoliberal reforms of educational institutions worldwide. Hence, we urge all educators to go back to classical writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to re-arm themselves with the weapon of criticism. Let us create study circles, organize fora and public lectures to enrich our understanding of Marx’s ideas. Let us study the different ways social movements in various periods of history applied creatively Marx’s ideas to their culture and society. We can enrich our courses, syllabi, and curriculum by integrating Marx’s ideas and writings into our pedagogical panoply.
But beyond these pedagogical activities, let us not restrict Marxism to mere mastery of basic principles and formulaic statements and sloganeering. Let us put these principles to the test by applying them to our struggle to better our educational system and to become better teachers and better organizers. We must use the ideas of Marx not merely in critique of the system, but to rightly overthrow it and produce the conditions necessary for human freedom and dignity. In Marx’s revolutionary theory, the working class and all other exploited and oppressed peoples of the world find their weapon. And his revolutionary philosophy is realized in the movement seeking to overthrow all forms of exploitation of human beings.
Love live Karl Marx!
Celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of Marx!
Workers of all nations unite!
STRENGTHEN INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY, SUPPORT SISTER PATRICIA FOX, NDS, DEFEND HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AGAINST THE TYRANNY OF THE US-DUTERTE REGIME Statement of Solidarity of the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy University of the Philippines Diliman on the Deportation Order against Sis. Patricia Fox, NDS 26 April 2018
“Whatever happens, I will be forever grateful to all those Filipinos that I call my friends and for all those from both church and sectors who have supported me through this time. I may lose my right to be in the Philippines, but I can never lose the learnings and beautiful memories.”- Sis. Patricia Fox, NDS
The members of CONTEND UP Diliman throw their full support behind Sister Patricia Fox, an Australian missionary of Sion Sisters, who chose to do her evangelization among our poor farmers, indigenous people, and urban poor as mandated by the Gospel. Sister Pat, Mother Superior of the Our Lady of Sion Congregation in the Philippines, has been in the country for 27 years, serving the marginalized sectors of our society, inspired by the radical teachings of Jesus Christ.
As educators and workers in the educational sector, we salute the courage of Sister Pat! We refuse to believe that the radical imperatives of the Gospel—to live the preferential option for the poor—should lead to drawing a clear and rigid line between the religious dimension of evangelization and its political consequences. When Jesus performed his mission to build the Kingdom of God here on Earth, announcing that the Kingdom is reserved for the poor, hungry, oppressed, widows and orphans (the “anawim”), he found himself in conflict with the religious norms and laws of the Roman Empire. He was crucified as a political criminal! Yet Jesus was not deterred. He did not, for a minute, stop and think about the division between politics and religion. He simply performed his mission to be with Yahweh’s anawim (the poor who depend on the Lord for deliverance) at any cost, even death.
Sister Patricia Fox could have remained in the comforts of her convent in Australia; but she chose to embrace the difficult path of Jesus –to live with and defend the rights of the poor. She followed Pope Francis’ exhortation for religious to be “always ready to dirty [their] hands” in the work of pastoring. In an interview Sister Pat said, “It took a while to become a bit inculturated as things are done differently, but the people in the rural areas, where I spent most of my time, were so patient and laughing with me at my mistakes.” Sis. Pat, humbling herself to learn from the poor, eventually learned “some of the basic issues” that cause poverty among the rural folk: “lack of their own lands, control of markets, dependence on pesticides.” For evangelical love—the love for the anawim— to be effective, and not remain mere romantization of the condition of the poor, must explore and understand the causes of people’s poverty and oppression. Following the three steps (observe, judge, act) proposed by Pope John XXIII’s Encyclical Letter Mater et Magistra (Church as Mother and Teacher of All Nations) to best respond to the “signs of the time,” Sis. Pat saw and observed the condition of the poor, she judged their situation based on Gospel imperative, and acted in love and charity. By seeing, judging, and acting, Sis. Pat followed the prophetic tradition of the Bible– standing up against those in power, speaking on behalf of the poor and exploited.
We, as educators, strongly support Sister Pat and her mission. We urge all our fellow educators, especially those from religious educational institutions, to join us in raising our voice and protesting the harassment of Sister Pat. As educators, let us emulate the “kenotic” (self-emptying) love of Sister Pat for the poor. If there are “undesirable aliens” that have to be deported, they are the foreign businesses that plunder our resources, promote slave labor in export processing zones, and those Filipinos who cooperate with them to extract hefty profits and capital from our people. The “undesirable aliens” are the US military forces and warmongers in our country who sow fear and promote war among Filipinos. They are undermining our national sovereignty, destabilizing our economy.
HANDS OFF SISTER PAT!
STOP THE DEPORTATION OF SIS. PAT!
STOP HARASSING HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS!
OPPOSE THE TYRANNY OF THE US-DUTERTE REGIME!
Photo from: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/166099/sister-patricia-fox-challenges-expulsion-order (accessed April 26, 2019)