VIVAT International, Philippines Workshop 2012

Forty-four members of religious organizations and their lay partners all over the Philippines renewed their commitment to uphold human rights, seek justice, promote peace, and preserve the integrity of creation through the workshop of VIVAT International which took place from Nov. 26-30,2012.

Eduardo Vasquez, assistant program coordinator of the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, said the birth of VIVAT International in the country signals the beginning of intensified efforts to defend or protect human rights and to give voice to the ‘poor’.

In a statement, the group said they gathered together to learn how advocates of VIVAT International carried out the ministry or advocacy on justice, peace, and integrity of creation in their missions. From these stories, the group identified major issues, which confront the country and its people.

“Inspired by the inputs and motivated by the vision and mission of VIVAT International, we renew our commitment to uphold human rights by working towards the eradication of poverty; restoring the rights of indigenous peoples; preserving creation; promoting sustainable development; and working for structural and political change,” said the group.

The participants had a lengthy exchange of diverse ideas and deliberation in identifying one or two issues for advocacy at the National level.  Finally, corruption and mining were the chosen issues at the National level for Advocacy.  JPIC issues are indeed complex, thus, the participants realized the great need for and value of networking.

The other issue mentioned was the framework agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB), a draft agreement signed in early October this year by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The agreement is a product of years of negotiations between the GPH and the MILF in the hope of resolving conflicts in Mindanao.

Participants to the VIVAT International Workshop-Philippines sign the official report and statement after a four-day workshop held at Saint Arnold Janssen Spirituality Center in Quezon City. In a statement, the group says they renewed their commitment to uphold human rights, seek justice, promote peace, and preserve the integrity of creation.

The parenting of trees would affirm the integrity of creation

As one of the highlights of the workshop, they planted three seedlings, which symbolize the birth of VIVAT International-Philippines. The three seedlings also represent the islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, which stand for unity despite the diversity of cultures and history of different peoples.

The VIVAT International-Philippines is composed of religious congregations, which include the SSpS, SVD, CSSp, ASC, MCCJ, OMI, LSA, RA, SCJ. There are 951 members of VIVAT International working in the Philippines.

Vasquez said the support of VIVAT International team “gave them the courage to stand for the rights and respect the dignity of each person, especially those of women and children at the grassroots level.”

VIVAT International is an NGO that was granted consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) under Article 71 of the Charter of the United Nations and on ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31.