MANILA - The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has thrown its support behind a planned mass action on Wednesday to condemn the hero's burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
In a statement issued Tuesday, CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the public should honor the memory of thousands of Filipinos who suffered under Marcos' authoritarian regime.
"Maraming nawala, namatay, nasugatan at napinsala dahil sa martial law. Ang karangalan ng kanilang pagpapakasakit ay dapat na alalahanin," Villagas said.
"Kung sa inyong paninindigan, ang makisali sa mga rally ay kinakailangan at sa tingin ninyo ay bahagi ng ating tungkuling Kristiyano, kayo ay malugod kong hinihimok na dumalo dala ang aking basbas," he added.
(Many disappeared, died and were tortured because of martial law. The honor of their suffering should be remembered. If you believe that joining the rallies is necessary and if you think this is part of our duties as Christians, I wholeheartedly encourage you to participate with my blessing.)
But the priest also insisted that any protest should be guided not by revenge, but by love for country, which he said is "a form of worshiping God."
"Ang pagmamahal sa bayan ay isang mukha ng pananampalataya sa Diyos. Sa anumang rally o symposium o protestang gagawin, palaging tandaan na ang paninindigan ay dapat na mula sa pagmamalasakit at hindi higanti," he said.
"Ang ating pag-usapan ay mga isyu at prinsipyo at iwasan ang pagmumura at paghamak sa kapwa taong iba ang pananaw sa atin. Ang hinahanap ay katotohanan—katotohanang may pagmamahal. Huwag tayong magsiraan."
The November 30 rally is the second such mass demonstration protesting the November 18 burial of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a heroes' cemetery.
Last Friday, thousands of Filipinos showed their disdain for the veneration afforded to a strongman accused of widespread plunder and brutality.
Marcos ruled the Philippines for 20 years, imposing martial law in 1972 and governing by decree in what was one of the darkest chapters of the country's history.
President Rodrigo Duterte had called for the burial, 27 years after Marcos's death, arguing that as a former military man and head of state, he met the criteria for a place in the heroes' cemetery.
Tens of thousands of suspected communist rebels and political foes were killed before Marcos's 1986 ouster in a "people's power" revolt. He died in exile in Hawaii three years later.
In 1986, a commission was created to recover the Marcos family's wealth, which was estimated at $10 billion worth of property, cash, stocks, jewellery and pieces of art. It has, so far, recovered about half.
NO TO REVISIONISM
Meanwhile, Villegas also encouraged elders not to revise history as they educate the youth on the horrors of Martial Law.
"Nananawagan ako sa mga magulang na ikuwento sa mga kabataan ang buong kasaysayan ng diktadurya at huwag pabanguhin ang pangit o pagandahin ang kamalian. Ang paglimot sa mga namatay sa martial law ay paglibak sa kanilang kabayanihan," he said.
(I appeal to parents to tell the youth the whole history of the dictatorship, and not cover up the repulsive nor glorify the wrong. Forgetting the casualties of martial law is tantamount to mocking their heroism.)
Villegas also directed all churches in Pangasinan to ring their bells for five minutes at 6 p.m. of November 30 to December 2.
He ended his statement with an appeal for Filipinos to defend their freedom and never forget their history.
"Ang alaala ay biyaya ng Diyos. Ang alaala ay guro sa kasalukuyan. Ang alaala ay haligi ng kinabukasan. Huwag lumimot. Manindigan. Makisangkot. Huwag pabayaang mawalang muli ang kalayaan!"
(History is a blessing from God. History is a teacher to the present. History is a pillar of the future. Never forget. Stand firm. ParticipatE. Do not let freedom disappear again.) With Reuters