The Association of the Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) has condemned a senior government official for accusing a well-known activist nun of conspiring with terrorists. Presidential communications undersecretary Lorraine Badoy last week accused Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan of being a “long-time ally” of outlawed communists. “This baseless accusation against a long-time social activist, feminist, human rights defender and theologian places her safety and well-being in danger,” the AMRSP said in a statement on July 6. The superiors also called Badoy’s comments reckless and malicious, adding that they could trigger online and offline attacks by those who wish to silence Duterte’s critics and dissenters. Badoy’s attack on Sister Mananzan followed the nun’s reaction to the conviction in a Manila court of top journalist Maria Ressa and news writer Reynaldo Santos, Jr.
In a social media post, the nun called the conviction an attack on press freedom. She also criticized the judge, who was an alumna of a Catholic school owned by her religious congregation. “Whatever successes you [Judge Montesa] may have attained, I am afraid you are a failure as a scholastican. Some consolation is that Maria Ressa is also a scholastican,” Sister Mananzan said in a post. In her response, Badoy took to social media to say: “Why is Mary John Mananzan so closely allied to a group [communists] that has brought this country so much grief and destruction and that has, as its main goal, the overthrow of the government?” Sister Mananzan was a former chairwoman of the AMRSP. She is also known as a prominent political and female activist. “Sister Mary John, OSB may have taken avant garde positions on church and society issues but in no way was it meant to aid and abet the enemies of the state,” the ARMSP statement said. “We in the association take this latest attack on a fellow religious very seriously. We extend our solidarity and unwavering support to Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB and all who have been accused, harassed, imprisoned by the enemies of truth, justice and peace.” Meanwhile, the AMRSP released another statement welcoming petitions filed with the Supreme Court to challenge the constitutionality of a new anti-terrorism law whose vague provisions could lead to human rights abuses, according to critics. “We trust that the good women and men of the highest court of the land will be guided by the common good of all and by the Philippine constitution,” the group said. The religious superiors urged the Supreme Court to stand by the common good in determining the merits of the petitions filed against the new law. “We implore the judges that in these gathering clouds of darkness, let the light of rule of law and ultimately justice shine ever bright,” the AMRSP said.
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