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Do not erase the truth!: A Pastoral Message of the Diocese of San Carlos

“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow's cause…” (Isaiah 1:17)

On the 50th year of the declaration of the Martial Law by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., we raise our voice in saying “no” to the systematic erasure of the historical truth. The truth remains – that the Martial Law regime plundered our nation’s wealth and committed massive human rights violations.

Describing the Martial Law period as a ‘Golden Age’ is a historical distortion and we reiterate our call to end the massive disinformation that escalated in the last presidential elections.

Moreover, we continue to call for an end to our people’s sufferings due to human rights violations and the militarization of communities that started during the martial law period and continued until today.

We remind the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) that a lasting peace can only be achieved through justice and peace negotiations.

Our Church in Negros Island, including many of our priests and lay leaders, was a witness and a victim of persecution under Marcos Senior’s Martial Law. The call for justice for the death of the 20 martyrs of the 1985 Escalante Massacre, remains unanswered even until today.

In recent months, some areas in our Diocese, specifically in Guihulngan and Calatrava, have been facing disturbing acts of violence and deaths involving the military and the rebels. It saddens us that our call for peace and an end of hostilities remain unheeded.

Our collective memories of the violence of the Martial Law strengthen our resolve to intensify our vigilance against any unjust and violent acts reminiscent of the past.

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It is a continuing challenge for us church people to speak of peace and justice. Thus, pursuing the synodal challenge of Pope Francis and embracing the path to peace, our Diocese calls for the resumption of Peace Talks between the GRP and the NDFP, and creating inclusive ‘zones of peace’ in areas challenged by militarization and violence.

We continue to ring our church bells to prick the conscience of perpetrators hiding behind the prevailing culture of impunity. We ring the bells to mourn the deaths, console the widows and orphans, and to disturb the complacent and indifferent among us.

Our people suffered long enough from fear and injustice. We must pursue peace without violence!

In the service of Christ’s peace,

Bishop, Diocese of San Carlos

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