The People’s State of the Nation Address (PSONA) is an event hosted by activists as a counter-narrative to the Filipino President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). Anakbayan Toronto organized a PSONA rally this year on July 25th. SCM Canada was asked to write a speech, which was delivered by Rosie from Anakbayan Toronto. You can watch this speech on ABTO’s Instagram (@anakbayanto) IGTV, along with the entire event that was recorded live. Below is the written statement we’ve contributed. Credits to Divy Sallentes Uptegrove and Simon Bondoc from SCM Canada, and Kjerrimyr Rodrigo Andrés from SCM Philippines for contributing to this statement.

I was told PSONA is a counter-narrative. I have observed that in the church, on the streets there is a narrative by church goers that Duterte is God sent. That he is the iron fist that saves. But SCM, along with many Churches and religious organizations in the Philippines, has a counter-narrative.

The Student Christian Movement all over the world including Canada and the Philippines, feels called to engage the prophetic teachings of the revolutionary Jesus of Nazareth. When I think about examples in the Bible where followers of Jesus are being persecuted, I’m reminded of the clergy in the Philippines being arrested and EJK’d for their gospel work of serving the poor. For being a prophetic voice in a broken nation who continues to see hope. 

Pastor Dan Balucio,  Pastors Camilo Tabada, Benjie Gomez, Pastor Dan San Andres, and Rev. Nathaniel Vallente

These are some of the many names of clergy who are punished for doing the work of the Gospel. To be Christians doing this work means to have hope, and operate out of our prophetic eye. Our ability to see justice play out.

I want to echo the voices of Chrisitan activists in the Philippines such as Bishop Marigza, the former secretary general of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines who had this to say:

“Our church workers have been faithful to their pastoral duty to accompany the downtrodden, the poor and the marginalized. They have been instruments to proclaim the good news of salvation to God’s Anawim (the poor, the marginalized), and to expose and denounce evil. Their unwavering stand against any attempt to suppress and oppress the people’s basic and fundamental rights make them a target of a government that is coward yet intolerant to criticism” End quote

I reached out to several SCMers in preparation to write this statement. As I heard back from Kej, a member of Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, he told me that as I was asking him about this, one of their projects got red-tagged. He wanted to say to you:

“Our prayers reflect the horrible health and socio-economic crisis the Filipino masses want to end and the political system that they want to hold accountable. But even these daily expression of our faith is now being attacked. In his more than five years in office, attacks against church people have worsened. This is an affront to our religious expression to let our faith push us to serve God and His people. His regime marks a very unChristian point in our history. Thus, from our prayers to our actions, it is our faith imperative to remove him from his office and do not let any successor continue this bloody and tortuous rule.” End quote.

And so, I say with clear conviction that from the ecumenical, and Christian perspective, the Duterte administration needs to end. The persecution of clergy who stand up for the people that Duterte has NEVER stood up for needs to end. SCM is in solidarity with the Philppine masse, for the people united will never be defeated.

Thank you. Oust Duterte.