“The Church once more expresses its deep disappointment towards the country’s judicial system. We note that despite wide media attention, despite the publicly announced promises of national police officers to solve the crime, and despite the proximity of the crime scene to Hacienda Luisita owned by the president’s family; the mediocre case of robbery with homicide turned out to a complete sham with the case dismissal handed down by the Tarlac City Regional Trial Court in June 4. 2014.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Bishop Joselito Cruz recalled that in his last public speech, the late Bishop Alberto Ramento assailed extrajudicial killings, the corruption in the government and the efforts then to amend the constitution.
“It is alarming that after eight years, we are still confronting the same crucial issues that have yet to be resolved. It goes to show that those in power remain callous and deaf to the clamor of the people,” Cruz, secretary general of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), told Bulatlat.com.
Bishop Ramento, known as “Bishop of the Poor Peasants and Workers,” was brutally killed in his convent on Oct. 3, 2006.
“The Church once more expresses its deep disappointment towards the country’s judicial system. We note that despite wide media attention, despite the publicly announced promises of national police officers to solve the crime, and despite the proximity of the crime scene to Hacienda Luisita owned by the president’s family; the mediocre case of robbery with homicide turned out to a complete sham with the case dismissal handed down by the Tarlac City Regional Trial Court in June 4. 2014,” the IFI statement read.
Ramento, a staunch supporter of the struggle of Hacienda Luisita farmers, served as Supreme Bishop of the IFI from 1993 to 1999. He was the diocesan bishop of Tarlac at the time of the killing.
Apart from being active in supporting the struggle of farmers of Hacienda Luisita, Ramento was also an advocate of workers rights and welfare. He always found time to visit workers in economic zones to know and understand their conditions, workers said in a tribute in 2006.
Fr. Jonash Joyohoy, director of the Bishop Ramento Human Rights Project, said they received a report that among the reasons for the dismissal of the case is the failure of policemen to take the witness stand.
He said they have yet to confirm such allegations. But justice, he added, was “denied to the late bishop and to the rest of us.”
Rights violations continue
Citing data from human rights group Karapatan, the IFI assailed the continuing human rights violations under President Aquino.
There are 204 killings and 207 attempted killings of activists and human rights defenders, according to Karapatan.
IFI also criticized the special treatment being extended to retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, the highest military official ever indicted for a human rights violation case.
Palparan was dubbed as “the butcher” for being the poster boy of the bloody counterinsurgency Oplan Bantay Laya that resulted to killings of activists.
“Palparan may be behind bars under privileged conditions but his murderous tribe has certainly thrived having similar thirst for blood and enjoying the same government protection,” the statement added.
Supreme Bishop Ephraim Fajutagana said that looking into the statistics of human rights violations, not one has ever been held accountable.
“Ganoon na ba talaga? (Will things be just like this?)” he asked rhetorically.
Later this month, the IFI said they would file a petition before concerned government agencies to call for the reopening of the case on Ramento killing.
“We stay firm that the case remains unresolved. As long as impunity prevails in Hacienda Luisita, from the Arroyo government to the BS Aquino government, there would be no justice for Bishop Ramento and other victims of extrajudicial killings,” Cristina Guevarra, secretary general of Hustisya, said in a statement.