Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing: An open letter to the Roman Catholic bishops of the Samar provinces

We are addressing this letter to Bishop Isabelo Abarquez of Calbayog, Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan, and Bishop Emmanuel Trance of Catarman. We are pleased at the interest of the good bishops in peace for our country. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in fact continue to strive to resume peace negotiations.

We caution the bishops that they are being hoodwinked to participate in localized peace talks promoted by Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPAD), as announced last February 20. The revolutionary forces under the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army in Eastern Visayas and other regions have long rejected and condemned these fake local peace talks and these will therefore never happen.

The SIPPAD has been around for some time as a largely irrelevant and ineffectual gathering of local officials, church, military and other “stakeholders” in Samar. It has fallen into being a tool of the Duterte regime for “counterinsurgency,” as can been in the announcement that it is now a regular part of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. This is in line with the regime’s scheme of imposing de facto martial law through militarization and the fascization of society – the so-called “whole of nation” approach.

We urge the bishops to see through the wolves in sheep’s clothing from the Army’s 8th Infantry Division and the militarists and peace spoilers of the Duterte regime. Is it Christian to participate in murdering tens of thousands of the poor who are demonized by the Duterte regime as drug addicts, communists and terrorists? Should the Roman Catholic Church be an unwitting participant in killings, bombings, occupation of civilian communities, arrests and detention of Red-tagged legal activists, and other human rights violations authorized since Novermber 2018 by Duterte in Samar, Negros and Bicol through Memorandum Order 32 and Executive Order 70?

If the bishops would like to be counted for peace, they can do so by leaving SIPPAD and shunning the fascist whole-nation approach of the Duterte regime. They can instead join the people’s pilgrimage urging the resumption of peace talks between the NDFP and the GRP, and the fulfillment of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms.

We urge the bishops: listen to the voice of the people. Listen to their cries to the heavens over the mass murder, corruption, servility to foreign interests and other obscenities of the Duterte regime. They should look back in history, remember the 148th anniversary of the GOMBURZA martyrdom last February 17 – and compare this to the Red-tagging, fabricated charges, and state-sanctioned murders under Duterte. In the face of inducements to participate in state violence against the poor and the oppressed, heed the second commandment.

Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing: An open letter to the Roman Catholic bishops of the Samar provinces