We demand for justice and we call on a speedy and an impartial investigation on the blatant violation of the dignity and human rights of Sr. Matutina and that of three others. We cannot say that we are relieved with the recent pronouncement by the military that it welcomes the investigation from the Commission on Human Rights on this matter. We are concerned with how they can justify intimidation, arrest and detention as simple inquiry on their part; worse, the 67th Infantry Battalion immediately came up with a script that a “fake nun” is circulating around the hinterlands.
Taking a strong stance on behalf of Sr. Matutina, we strongly condemn this attack on our dignity by Lt. Soriao of the 67th IB. This atrocity against those who consistently protect the environment and help alleviate the plight of the poor only shows how the AFP and its chief, Pres. Arroyo, tolerate, encourage, and considers as policy the Martial Law-like trampling of our rights as church people and missionaries advocating for an end in the pollution of our country's lands and rivers and the deprivation of the peasant’s land and livelihood.
This current harassment against our co-worker, environmental and human rights advocates in Southern Mindanao Region is not an isolated incident. As human rights violations escalate, the intention is clear: to terrorize and silence local residents and attempt to quell their opposition against the capitalists' aggression in the face of large-scale mining, massive logging activities and plantations.
Indeed, by threatening Sr. Matutina and the other advocates, the 67th Infantry Battalion of the 10th Infantry Division is acting on the behest and as protector of large-scale mining firms in the province.
We denounce the Arroyo government’s counter-insurgency program, the Oplan Bantay Laya 2 which targets advocates like Sr. Matutina and civilians. Pres. Arroyo and the AFP, particularly under the 10th ID must be held accountable for Sr. Matutina’s case as well as for the sell out of our national patrimony by way of paving the way to large-scale mining and other business interest in the region.
We commend Sr. Stella Matutina and the officers of Panalipdan for its relentless support for the peasants and their quest for Genuine Agrarian Reform and the Indigenous Peoples' struggle for their right to ancestral lands, justice and freedom. We urge her to persist and persevere. We, likewise, urge the church people to work for and commit their resources in the services of uplifting the condition of the peasants, and to contribute towards becoming Church of the Poor.
Justice for Sr. Stella Matutia, OSB and environmental activists!!
Stop Military Persecution of Church People!
NO to large-scale Mining and Militarization!
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Southern Mindanao (RMP-SMR) is a sub-regional chapter of the RMP national organization, which is inter-congregational and inter-diocesan in character, of women and men religious, priests and lay people. It was founded in 1969 by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines (AMRSWP), to forge a church response to the social volcano that was Rural Philippines.
Sr. Julita P. Encarnacion, m.a.
Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Region
110 Luis Tatad St. Dumanlas, Buhangin District, Davao City, Philippines
Contact No.: 082- 221 – 7954 Email Address: [email protected]