Gomburza resurfaces, joins protests vs Duterte
LUCENA CITY — Gomburza, the cause-oriented organization of priests, nuns, brothers and laity known as the vanguard of church activism during the dark days of martial law, has resurrected to once again join the parliament of the streets, this time against President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We have to come out again to join the struggle of the Filipino people against the creeping dictatorship of President Duterte and to vigorously oppose his evil and bloody drug war,” activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes told the Inquirer in a phone interview on Saturday.
Reyes, also known as the “running priest” for initiating marathons to raise public awareness on social and political issues, said he would temporarily act as Gomburza spokesperson as the reactivated organization geared up for a formal appearance on a Sept. 21 rally in Manila against Mr. Duterte.
Much worse than Marcos
Reyes, however, declined to provide the present membership of the revived Gomburza.
“I will be going around the country to formally welcome new members and to also embrace old comrades in cassocks,” Reyes said.
“Duterte is much worse than Marcos,” Reyes said, while shouts of, “Many have died already,” “It is time,” “Long live the Gomburza” were heard from the background during the interview.
Reyes recalled that it took several long years before Marcos “showed his brutal and despotic leadership.”
“It took him more than 21 years to kill more than 3,000 victims compared to Duterte’s 13,000 victims in his more than one year of bloody administration,” Reyes said.
The group of activist priests had been in “hibernation” since the mid-2000s after some leaders of the Catholic Church castigated the group’s militant activism that oftentimes contradicted the political views of some church officials.
Reyes said the history of Gomburza, from its founding on Feb. 17, 1977, in the Loyola House of Studies at the Ateneo de Manila, was replete with stories of militant activism against the Marcos dictatorship.
Gomburza came from the acronym of three Filipino priest martyrs—Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Apolonio Burgos and Jacinto Zamora—who stood up against Spanish colonialism and, consequently, executed at Bagumbayan on Feb. 17, 1872.
Reyes noted that after the People Power revolution in 1986, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church mellowed down and adopted a conservative stand during the succeeding administrations.
He said the Church had become laidback and complacent, thinking that martial law and despotic leaders would no longer return.
“But here comes another dictator in Mr. Duterte who is abusing his authority, misusing his power in the military and police, and implementing many other antipeople policies of his administration,” the activist priest said.
“It is imperative for all freedom-loving Filipinos to come out and be vigilant,” he said.
Reign of terror
Reyes said the pealing of church bells across the country was a “symbolic action” to rally the opposition to the reign of terror that had left thousands dead in Mr. Duterte’s drug war.
“The symbolic action has begun. Other forms of actions have to be engaged in by every concerned Christians to relive and strengthen the faith,” he said.
Reyes said that amid widespread extrajudicial killings, fake news, manipulation of the justice system, rubber-stamp Congress and virtual dictatorship, “the Filipino people and the Church should now act together and not wait for the situation to get worse because it is already worse.”
“The best response is not fear, not resignation but pro-active organizing to get our acts together,” he said.
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