IFI Priest Unfazed by Threats from the Military

On Feb. 9, 1993, soldiers brought him to the headquarters of the 1st Infantry Tabak Division, Philippine Army in Pulakan, Zamboanga del Sur.

Fr. Diony recalled, “In-interrogate ako. High-ranking officer daw ako ng Communist Party of the Philippines. Ako raw ang secretary ng white area sa Zamboanga City. Sabi ko, di ko naman iyan alam.” (I was interrogated and accused of being a high-ranking officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines. They insisted that I was the secretary of the White Area Committee in Zamboanga City. I told them that I knew nothing about what they were accusing me of.)

He was released without charges on Feb. 14, 1993.

Nineteen days later, on March 5, a certification signed by Capt. Melquiades L. Feliciano of the Philippine Army (then Commanding Officer of the Military Intelligence Company (MICO) of the Tabak Division) tagged him as the “former Secretary of the White Area Committee.” Feliciano cited him as having “surrendered” and that he was “cleared by this unit.”

By March 29 of the same year, the military ordered Fr. Diony to lead the prayer in a village meeting they convened. To his surprise, he was presented as a “rebel returnee” along with other alleged former members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Human rights advocacy

Fr. Diony said that the harassment he is being subjected to stems from his human rights advocacy.

Fr. Diony is a national council member of Karapatan, (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights). He also works in the services department of the said human rights organization.

He said,“Tuwing may nawawala, ako ang kasama ng pamilya sa ISAFP, sa Philippine Army, sa Fort Bonifacio, sa Camp Crame…” (Every time somebody is missing, I accompany the families of victims to ISAFP [Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines], the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Camp Crame…

He has also taken custody of Lolita Robiños, mother of Romulo Robiños who was abducted from his home in Pampanga last November 16, 2006. Fr. Diony has also been assisting Raymond Manalo, a farmer who escaped with his brother while being detained and tortured by the military and is now a primary witness in the disappearance case of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno.

Unfazed

“Posibleng nasa target research na ako ng OBL…at pinalutang ito para ma-intimidate, tumigil na ako,” Fr. Diony said. (Possibly, I have been included in the target research of the Oplan Bantay Laya…and they intentionally made it known to me to intimidate me and compel me to stop my activities.)

Individuals identified for “target research” in the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch) are subjected to surveillance and “neutralization”.

Asked if he fears for his safety, Fr. Diony said, “Actually, ang lakas lang naman ng aking loob ay iyong mga biktima eh. Kung sila ay nagpapatuloy sa paghahanap ng kanilang mga mahal sa buhay, sino naman akong titigil?” (Actually, I derive strength from the victims. If they persist in searching for their loved ones, who am I to stop?)

He continued, “Bagamat may pangamba sa aking sarili na baka ako ang susunod, ang mga biktimang ito, may trauma pa at ating tinutulungang mabuhay nang normal sa lipunang hindi normal, sino ba naman akong matatakot?” (Although I have fears that I may be next, these victims still have to contend with trauma and we are helping them live normal lives in an abnormal society, so who am I to be afraid?)

According to the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) and Karapatan, 25 church workers have been killed under the Arroyo regime. Four survived assassination attempts.

Fr. Diony said,“Resolbado rin ako, kung bawian tayo ng buhay, kabahagi iyan ng ating ministry. Resolbado tayo sa sakripisyo at kamatayan.” (I am resolved that if I lose my life, such fate is part of my ministry. I am resolved to make sacrifices and face death.) (Bulatlat.com)

Share This Post