CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 19 August 2017

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The Year of the Killing

MANILA (UCAN): In the run up to the second State of the Nation Address from the president of The Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, pockets of the streets of the country were alive with rallies calling for an end to the rampant killing in his so-called drug war and an end to repressive state policies.
 
But one rally staged by teenage girls from St. Scholastica’s College in Manila hit the mark for originality, as they took to the streets to proclaim Duterte’s first year in power as The Year of the Killing.
 
Run by the Missionary Benedictine Sisters, the academic board of St. Scholastica’s gave Duterte a failing grade of minus 7,000 for his first year in Malacañang, representing on demerit point for every death in his War on the Poor.
 
“We will not allow the president to further cultivate a culture of violence in our country,” Karla Yu, a leader of the student group, Millennials Against Dictators, said.
 
Yu added that Duterte’s administration has given rise to “state-perpetrated violence, impunity, state-sponsored propaganda and fake news.” She added, “A dictator may be emerging, but soon, as with all dictators, he will surely fall.”
 
Shibby de Guzman, a 13-year-old student leader of the Youth Resist Movement, said when it comes to opposing what is wrong and fighting for human rights, age is not a factor that should be considered.
 
She said that as young as those in her group may be, they must stand for what is just and become the voice of the oppressed, adding that although the group is still young, they cannot hide behind the protective privacy and just rant on social media.
 
De Guzman said the students should “take back the voice that the government has tried so hard to silence. We will scream and shout if we have to. We will take to the streets if we need to.”
 
Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan explained that all the students who joined the protest action had permission from their parents and the school administrators.
 
The long time social advocate described the students and their parents as giving hope to old campaigners like herself.
 
Church and human rights groups have expressed concern over what they describe as a rising culture of impunity in the country during Duterte’s first year in office.
 
Nardy Sabino, a spokesperson for the Promotion of Church People’s Response, said no one has been brought to justice for any of the killings that have been perpetrated in the name of law and order during the year.
 
“There are efforts to desensitise the public to violence,” Sabino said.
 
Cristina Palabay, from the human rights group, Karapatan, said Duterte should “immediately stop the killings and withdraw repressive state policies.”
 
Duterte delivered his second State of the Nation Address on July 24 and so ended the first Year of the Killing, while at the same time declaring in a second year of bloodshed.

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