By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — A bishop of the poor, of peasants and workers. This was how former Iglesia Filipinas Independiente (IFI) Supreme Bishop Alberto B. Ramento was described by family members and colleagues in a liturgical commemoration on the occasion of his fourth death anniversary, Oct. 3.
Ramento served as a Supreme Bishop, the highest ranking IFI clergy in the country, from 1993 to 1999 and was a former chairman of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP). He was the chairman of the Supreme Council of Bishops, co-chairperson of the Ecumenical Bishop’s Forum (EBF) and the diocesan bishop of Tarlac when he was killed.
On Oct. 3, 2006, Ramento was stabbed to death while sleeping inside the rectory of the IFI church in Tarlac City where he was a diocesan bishop. He was the 753rd victim of extrajudicial killing under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government and the second IFI church leader killed, the first was Fr. Willliam Tadena.
Bishop Alberto Ramento, a bishop of the poor.(Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)
After four years, his family and church people are still calling for justice.
The police concluded that the bishop’s death was a case of robbery with homicide and four men have been detained since. “But the killing of Bishop Ramento was premeditated and politically motivated,” said IFI secretary general Rev. Ephraim S. Fajutagana.
“How could Bishop Ramento be a prime target of robbers? He did not possess any substantial wealth or fortune,” IFI Supreme Bishop Godofredo David said.
Still No Justice
The family believes that the bishop’s death was politically motivated and the four men who were arrested and charged with the killing are fall guys.
Alberto Ramento III or Altres, youngest son of Ramento, said the case of his father is still in court.
“The police did not even consult us regarding their next move. After my father‘s burial they just told us that they apprehended four men and that a case has already been filed in court.” The case was filed before the Regional Trial Court Branch 64 of Tarlac City under Judge Cesar Aganon.
Altres said the case was moving very slow, “It’s either the lawyers of the police were not present or the police themselves were absent during the hearings.” But even if years have passed, Altres said, they are not getting tired of attending the hearings. From Cavite City, he travels all the way to Tarlac just to attend court hearings. “It is also one way of showing them that we would not stop and we would seek justice for the death of our father.”
The last hearing, according to Altres was last July 2010. “The police only came in court when the judge said that they would be charged of obstruction of justice if they snub the subpoena of the court.”
He said if the present case in court ends, their next move is to file a case against the police. “With the help of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), we would file a case against the police. They ruined the evidence that would lead to the truth behind my father’s killing.”
Aside from death threats that his father received prior to his killing, one of the suspects is ready to confess. “He asked that we talk separately before he told me what he knew.”