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  • Writer's pictureSimbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

Easter 2020 Statement

To our friends and partners in Christ,

In our observance of Easter and the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ perhaps it was with some difficulty that we brought ourselves into a disposition of celebration. There are more than 4,000 of our countrymen now documented as being infected by the COVID-19 virus; three hundred have died due to it. Families all around the country are feeling the effects of the quarantine as supplies begin to dwindle and access to basic necessities becomes more and more difficult.

Around the country we see abuses of power and human rights violations as local government officials take the interpretations of the parameters of the quarantine into their own hands. At the national level, our officials continue to demonstrate the same gross impunity: for the same reason that the poor are arrested and punished during this quarantine, a government official was forgiven. To this day, we still ask for clear plans regarding the resolution of the pandemic and its social and economic consequences; to this day, we wonder when the amelioration and emergency powers will materialise significantly.

As the pandemic continues on, cases of domestic abuse grow more and more too. Employees are laid off unfairly in order to protect business. People with disabilities, people with illnesses, and our elderly are forgotten in the margins of society, unable to wait out the long lines in grocery stores. Our farmers, who had already been struggling to live prior to the pandemic, continue to lose their crops to the lockdown. How then would a Catholic have brought themselves to celebrate?

The celebration of the Resurrection is a celebration of life triumphing over death, of good triumphing over a powerful evil against all odds, through the resurrection of our Lord. But central also to that are the people, the women in particular, who continued to believe in Him and honor Him and went to visit the body in spite of the darkness and difficulties they faced upon His death. Today, we invite you to celebrate hope. Not hope in its naive optimism, but a hope that echoes the same bravery of these women who came before us; a hope that finds its footing in the real manifestations of Christ today.

We celebrate the real compassion and love of the different people around the country who have creatively responded to the pain of the world today: citizen-led initiatives providing aid and support to healthcare workers, frontliners, and vulnerable communities. We celebrate the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 and continue to pray and work for the recovery of more. We celebrate the local government units that have remained faithful to their mandate or providing services for the well-being of their constituents.

As we celebrate these moments and witness the Kingdom of God manifesting in these actions, our mission becomes clearer: that if we want these wondrous acts of kindness to be what defines the world now and in the future, proper acknowledgement and real changes have to be made.

We must continue to demand accountability from our national government regarding the mistakes it has made and the actions it has promised. We must continue to demand urgency as aid is sorely needed already, particularly as the quarantine has been extended. We must ask for real support and proper compensation for our healthcare frontliners and the every day workers that maintain our society. We must ask for justice for the workers that lost their jobs or were forced to work in dire situations, and we must hold their employers accountable. We must call for comprehensive plans for the rebuilding of our nation that will no longer replicate the exclusions of the past, but instead, put the most vulnerable at its center. Many of what has long been normal has been challenged and shown to be sick and perverted, and it is almost unimaginable that once this pandemic settles, that we return to how things were.

A celebration of hope and the promises of a better future demands also an active protection of it. As the women approached the Lord's tomb, they were told "Do not be afraid." Similarly, a new world from what we have known before is shrouded in the shadows of uncertainty and fear, but still we must insist on this better future, now.

As a Church, as Filipinos, as a community of people who continue to aspire towards a truly just future, now is also the time for us to take decisive steps towards realizing the Kingdom of God—that our mission demands action and active involvement now, and that our work necessarily goes beyond charity and kindness, and must go hand in hand with the undoing and dismantling of evil in our systems, our cultures, and the structures we find ourselves in.

Take courage.

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