Editors Note: The following is the response by lawyer Flosemer Chris Gonzales, chairperson of the legal cooperation cluster of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Activities Council in Western Visayas to the pastoral letter issued by bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Western Visayas who have earlier issued it in relation to what Gonzales described as “law enforcement operations” against the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
DNX is printing the statement of Gonzales in full.
A Response to the Pastoral Letter of Western Visayas Bishops on the Law Enforcement Operations against members of the CPP-NPA in Tapaz, Capiz.
Our Bishops need to see the truth from the perspective of an unbiased mind. They must set themselves free from all forms of biases, misconceptions, and one sided narratives that may have been fed to them by equally biased sources. Only then can they say, we can all say, “That the truth shall set us free.” (John 8:32).
We caution the bishops from making hasty, false, and presumptuous conclusions. We would like to think that you have all been misinformed. As Catholics, we adhere to the teachings of the Church but that does not equally mean that our Bishops are not prone to errors in judgment.
The individuals who were arrested were subjects of legitimately issued search warrants. You cannot conclude that atrocities were committed. That is simply irresponsible.
It is also irresponsible on your part to conclude that those who died in the police operations were deliberately killed. The use of reasonable force in the police operations were prompted by the fact that those who lost their lives engaged the law enforcement officers by force of arms during the implementation of the search warrants.
It is likewise a fallacy non sequitur when you equated the law enforcement operations in Tapaz, Capiz to the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign. In fact, your statistics of 27,000 is hyperbolic and unsupported by empirical data. We suppose you read it from an opinion paper by someone who is misinformed also just like you are in your Pastoral Letter. Allow us to correct also your use of the adjective “senseless” to describe the war against illegal drugs. Waging war against illegal drugs was, is, and will never be senseless. What lacks sense is the apathy of the minority to the evils of illegal drugs. We hope that you are one with us in condemning the evils brought about by illegal drugs in as much as both the Church and the State condemns child abuse, sexual abuse and all forms of sexual exploitation.
Contrary to what was fed to you by your misinformed sources, allow us to share to you the truth on those who were subjects of the search warrants. They are not who they seem to be as indicated in your Pastoral Letter. Again, we caution you on your use of the word atrocities. Allow us to remind you that you have been very very selective and biased in your use of the word “ATROCITIES”.
Open your eyes and minds to the fact that the Tumandoks have long been victims of atrocities by the CPP-NPA. They are forced to feed the NPAs. Their children are forcibly recruited to be child warriors for the NPA. Development had long been prevented by the NPA who capitalizes on the vulnerabilities of the indigenous peoples. Do not be deceived Bishops. Do not be victims to the lies and propaganda machinery of the CPP-NPA. They are in the same league with the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. Engage us in a dialogue and we will open your eyes to the Truth. Not the lies and deceptions that you have been fed.
We will also appreciate it if you issue Pastoral Letters every time the CPP-NPA murder soldiers, policemen, and civilians. But the Truth is, your silence is deafening. When six soldiers were ambushed and killed and mutilated in Tapaz many years ago, wala kaming narinig na Pastoral Letter. When ten soldiers were killed in Calinog many years back, and the NPA used IEDs, we cannot recall our Bishops issuing a Pastoral Letter. When a child was injured by an IED triggered by the NPA in Tacayan, Tapaz a year ago, nasaan po ang inyong Pastoral Letter. The list goes on but the Pastoral Letter is nowhere there. Do not tell us that the Church is now selective on its “advocacies.” This is not what the Gospels teach us. When you speak of militarization of the IP communities, we cannot but be amazed by the fact that your Pastoral Letter sounds like it rolled out from a CPP-NPA Propaganda Machinery. To correct your misinformed notion, there is no militarization of our barangays in Panay Island and the rest of the country. The term militarization is a creation of the CPP-NPA propaganda arm. We are wondering why you allowed yourselves to be used and exploited by the CPP-NPA Propaganda Machinery. Surely, you cannot validate nor sustain your claims of alleged militarization because there was none to speak of from the very start.
To end, dear Bishops, let us revisit Divini Redemptoris, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI. It is stated there that in the face of such a threat (referring to communism), the Catholic Church could not and should not remain silent. Pope Pius IX states that communism is absolutely contrary to natural law itself, and if once adopted would utterly destroy the rights, property, and possessions of all men and even society itself. Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris defined communism as the “fatal plague which insinuates itself into the very marrow of society only to bring about its ruin.”
Pope Pius XI states that the communism of today conceals in itself a false messianic idea. A pseudo ideal of justice. The encyclical reminds us not to be deceived by the duality and the deceptive ways of communism.
Hence, lest we forget our real enemy here. We hope that our Bishops can revisit Divini Redemptoris so that you can be enlightened in your future endeavors and decision making processes. We also request for prudence and objectivity lest you will fall victims to the deceptive propaganda campaign of the CPP-NPA.
Rest assured, this response to your Pastoral Letter does not diminish in any way my faith in God, my personal belief in the dogma of the Catholic Church, and in my friendship with many of our priests, most of whom are my colleagues from the seminaries where I spent 8 of the best years of my life. May the Good Lord bless and keep you.
Atty. Flosemer Chris Gonzales
Chairperson, Legal Cooperation Cluster