1992 and Beyond

Fidel V. Ramos became President in 1992. He paved the way for Philippines 2000, which in turn heightened the adverse effects of globalization, free trade and development aggression. At first, it appeared as if Ramos’ program of Philippines 2000 will truly usher in economic progress. But events in his latter years in office exposed the frailty and failure of this model.

Peso devaluation, trade deficits, capital flight, oil deregulation and oil price hikes, increase in prices of basic commodities, labor contractualization, anti-terrorism and crime-control bills, national ID system, environmental destruction, land conversion, displacements and demolition, and charter change are just some of the problems and issues faced by the country under the present administration. And through all these, AMRSP has joined hands with the people to struggle against the continuing poverty and repression. AMRSP was there in vigilant protest against GATT (1995); the anti-terrorism bills and the establishment of a national ID system (1995): APEC (1996); oil deregulation and oil price increases (1997); charter change (1997) and the overall effects of globalization and Philippines 2000.

In the decade of the 90s, the AMRSP affirmed its response to the challenges of becoming the Church of the Poor as envisioned in PCP II. AMRSP’s leadership and general membership have continuously met the demands of peace-building through statements and letters of concern and solidarity. Moreover, AMRSP has given witness through its Mission Partners — men and women, lay and religious — in their commitment to the AMRSP Mission Statement which upholds the Gospel values of justice and peace. They have persevered, at times, despite the risk of being alienated, misunderstood, even salvaged. They continue to denounce injustices in their pursuit of a Christian community, of life characterized by truth, love and peace.

The “groans and growth” of AMRSP in the words of one of its former Co-Chairpersons best describes AMRSP as it was in the past, present and the future. Though written in the context of AMRSP’s struggle during the dark days under Martial Law, it remains real up to this time when rights and liberties are still under constant threat. To quote:

  • we became close to the reality of the life and struggle of the people and thus can be in solidarity with them;
  • we went beyond the confines of our well-served institution and sisters were sent to live among the poor;
  • we learned to work together in common projects with the Task Forces and in short-term activities with other groups, POs and NGOs;
  • we learned to share even more and to put at the disposal of the poor our facilities and other resources;
  • there were radical changes in the formation — from the greenhouse type to what we now call contextualized formation;
  • we learned a new way of being religious — being partners with the lay, of being evangelized while evangelizing;
  • we developed a new method of reflecting and theologizing leading to a new way of the Spirit;
  • most of all, we overcame our fear by acting inspite of the fear; the work of justice and liberation was a dangerous act because of the control of the powerful over the powerless; and the best control was to sow fear; this was an ever present dilemma of the (AMRSP). But by the grace of God and by the support of the masses of suffering people, the (AMRSP) was able to overcome fear falteringly but never giving up.

In the 1997 AMRSP Convention, the members, together with past AMRSP chairpersons gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary, to recollect their prophetic witnessing and to reflect on the prophetic mission challenges of the third millennium in the light of Gospel imperatives and of the teachings of the Church. The Mission Partners were there to present their programs and activities. As expressed in the Convention Statement, there were touching, albeit disturbing moments as the Mission Partners shared their efforts to realize the transformation of the Filipino nation into a new people who enjoy the fullness of life. But the evil forces of greed and corruption which stems from the menace of globalization have, more than ever before laid a stranglehold over the people’s lives through government’s pseudo-reforms imposed by external agents often beyond ordinary human control. In the context of these realities, the major superiors gained a deeper understanding of consecrated life. Imperatives for prophetic mission reminded them that the common mission of integral human liberation requires a distinctive contribution from consecrated communities, namely, the Good News of Jesus and of total salvation in the Reign of God.