August 16, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – One of the focuses of ministry for many Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates is advocating for social justice in a wide range of issues. Adrian Dominican Sisters from the United States had a special opportunity on August 2 to learn about the justice issues facing their Sisters in the Philippines, members of the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter.
Sister Antonette Lumbang, OP – Justice Promoter for the Remedies Chapter – gave a presentation on three key justice issues that her nation faces, as well as the responses to those issues by the Sisters of the Remedies Chapter. Sisters Maria Socorro Garcia, OP, and Lourdes Pamintuan, OP also took part in the presentation.
After a brief description of the history and geography of her South Asian nation – made up of 7,700 islands – Sister Antonette explained through words, videos, and slides three key issues facing her nation today.
- War against Drugs. After taking office in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte launched a war against drugs, in which suspected drug dealers and users are killed by the police without due process. Sister Antonette noted that thousands of people have been killed in drug raids – “mostly poor or simple users,” while the major players in drug trafficking have remained at large. While drugs have been a problem in the Philippines and enforcement of drug laws is an important step, “the issue here is that you don’t just kill people without due process.”
A related issue is the declaration of martial law in May 2017 in Marawi, a city in the southern region of Mindanao as a result of armed conflict between the military, security forces, and ISIS terrorists. Sister Antonette noted some of the results: people killed and wounded in the siege; a greater likelihood of arrest; and the displacement of thousands of civilians.
- The re-imposition of the death penalty. About a decade after it was abolished, the death penalty in the Philippines is coming closer to being reinstated. The bill to reinstate it has passed in the House and we’re “waiting for the results in the Senate,” Sister Antonette said.
In response to this violence, Sister Antonette said, the Remedies Sisters have been protesting through their own Walk for Life in their northern region of Pampanga, supporting the Catholic Church’s stance against any policies that oppose the sanctity of life.
“We’re making a conscious effort in our schools to raise the consciousness of the students” on the issue of the death penalty, Sister Antonette said. The Sisters are also involved in demonstrations against the death penalty. Sister Antonette was among a group of Sisters from her Chapter who lobbied against the death penalty at the House of Representatives in January.
- Climate Change. “This is the area where our Chapter has been most involved,” Sister Antonette said, noting that the Philippines has already been impacted by climate change. Families are already impoverished in the Philippines, she said, but climate change has added to their burden. “Climate change will severely affect our future growth and put our region at risk.” Her country has already experienced severe typhoons in recent years. Because of the increased temperatures, typhoons and floods will become even more common in the Philippines, Sister Antonette explained.
The Sisters in the Remedies Chapter have been involved in mitigating climate change in a number of ways. Some Sisters have signed the Laudato Si Pledge to respond to Pope Francis’ encyclical on environment by “praying for and with creation, living more simply, and advocating to protect our common home.”
The Sisters have also responded in practical ways: through community farming, work towards zero-waste management, and setting up windmills in two of the Sisters’ communities to generate wind power.
Sister Antonette brought her update on justices issues in the Philippines to Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates in the Detroit and Chicago areas later in the week.