Capalla: summary killings are no answer to poverty and crime; look at goodness instead

“As a Christian, you must believe that in every human being, there is goodness, inherent and         inborn goodness. … to look at goodness and to make that goodness active in terms of listening in terms of being with another,” he told participants to the Dialogue between the Asia-Europe Forum and the Bishops Ulama Conference at the Eden Nature resort evening of April 21.

“But goodness today, in Mindanao, here in this city, capital punishment — summary killing is the answer to poverty and to crime. But I think it does not solve the problem if you kill people. But you must be patient though, to look at goodness because that is where hope comes from,” Capalla said.  

Two months earlier, on February 24, the Archbishop issued a  Circular mandating all Catholics attending the daily and Sunday masses here to recite “on bended knees” after the Holy Communion, an Oratio Imperata (obligatory prayer) for the city’s healing “in view of the unabated series of summary killings” here.

Capalla said the Oratio Imperata – Prayer for healing of our people – should be recited “personally and as a community” for one year starting Ash Wednesday on February 25.

Fifteen days earlier, on February 9, the City Council’s Committee on Human Rights and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Davao City chapter organized a multi-sectoral dialogue on the summary killings where it was reported that  813 persons had become victims of summary killings from 1998. In January 2009 alone, 33 persons had been reported killed.

The CHR led by Chair Leila de Lima came to conduct a public inquiry on the summary killings on March 30 and 31 and April 17 and will return here second week of May to continue the probe.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch also launched its report “You can die anytime” on April 7 in Quezon City. The report says the police are tolerating and supporting the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).

Capalla said dialogue is the “only human and humane way of resolving conflict.”

“Mindanao is a Wild wild west because the media projects Mindanao as a place where there is kidnapping, killings, all kinds of violence. What you hear in Mindanao are the sound of guns and the negative write-ups about Mindanao” Capalla said.

But he added that for peace negotiations to continue, “we need to hear the people in Mindanao, the communities who have not been heard for so many years.”

Capalla explained that when the peace talks with MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and government collapsed because of the rejection of the MOA-AD (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain),  the BUC opted to conduct “community dialogues all over Mindanao involving Catholics, Protestants,  Muslims, Lumads (indigenous peoples) in Mindanao,” Capalla said.

He said they will present the findings to both the government and MILF peace panels. The two panels have yet to resume talks after the aborted signing of the MOA-AD on August 5, 2008.

Capalla also said among the challenges the BUC is facing is “how to convince my fellow religious about what we are doing.”

He said the country has 125 Catholic bishops, 24 of them in Mindanao.

“But there are some people who are not against (the peace talks) but they’re very passive .. they don’t talk about it but there’s no spirit, there’s no life in terms of peace involvement. And we know the reason why. Many of us Catholic Christians have suffered in the past. We have wounds. And many of them speak through these wounds. Their parents have suffered before. So we understand. We understand. As I said, the peace process takes a long time so we have to be patient,” Capalla said.

“That kind of experience, we can hear it also, not only among Catholics but also among the Protestants in relation to the Muslims, and Muslims also say the same thing against us how they suffered from Christians, so we go back to history,” Capalla said, adding that the healing of wounds is “part of our concern.”

“I would like to tell you that in the  peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front, they didn’t mention social healing, only about material – budgets, disarmament, but healing of the wounds, there’s nothing. Now we learn that the trauma of the kids in the evacuation centers is something that we have to address. Right now so many people have been displaced …” Capalla said.

Some 600,000 persons were displaced by the conflict last year. By yearend, about 300,000 had remained in evacuation centers. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)