HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Killing Shows Church under Attack - IFI
Fr. Terry Revollido said the Iglesia Filipino Independiente (IFI) is under
attack because it is the church “of the workers, the peasants and other
poor people.” In his homily at the wake of Bishop Ramento in Tarlac City
he said that the bishop died because he fulfilled the church’s mission to
be on the side of the people and stood up against evils being committed by
those in power.
Luzon News Service
TARLAC CITY-Bishop Alberto
Ramento, the ninth Supreme Bishop of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente [IFI]
was among the first to arrive at the hospital in Tarlac City where Fr.
William Tadena was brought after being shot and killed in the morning of
March 3, 2005.
After making his own silent
queries on the death of one of his priests, Ramento offered gentle words
of comfort and condolences to the grieving family and church members.
Asked by media about the
killing, the frail-looking priest said at that time that Fr. Taneda was a
victim of “state persecution” and that he was killed because of his
support to the workers of Hacienda Luisita and for discharging the
church’s mission to the poor and the oppressed.
PEOPLE’S BISHOP: Slain
Aglipayan Bishop Alberto Ramento speaks during a mass for Hacienda
Luisita workers who went on strike in late 2005
PHOTO COURTESY OF ARKIBONG
The 70-year old bishop led in
protests over the killing of Fr. Tadena and held the Arroyo administration
responsible for the crime.
Exactly 18 months later last
October 3, Bishop Ramonte may well be the latest victim of the “state
persecution” he fought against. He was killed at dawn as he slept at the
rectory of the IFI church in Tarlac City where he was the diocesan bishop.
The police immediately
concluded that Ramonte was a victim of robbery and homicide. The
conclusion was based mainly on their investigation of the crime scene.
According to the autopsy
report, Ramonte was stabbed three times at the chest and three times at
the back. There were also lacerations on his hands. His cell phone,
bishop’s ring and an undetermined amount of cash from his wallet were
Archimedes Ferrer, 44, a
staff of Ramonte, testified that the bishop held a whole day meeting at
the church on the day before he was killed. He went to bed alone at the
rectory located on the second floor above the church’s front entrance.
He found the bishop sprawled
on the floor, bloodied and lifeless the next morning. He said the rectory
has been burglarized two times during the past month.
Ferrer also testified that
Monsignor Perlino Dugay, also an IFI priest who attended the meeting the
day before, observed a motorcycle riding man casing the church in the
afternoon before they left.
But Aldos Ramento, 35,
son of the slain bishop belied the police conclusion.
“We do not believe that
(Bishop Ramento) is a victim of a simple robbery. The police have not
shown to us the results of their investigation,” he told GLNS.
“The death threats sent to my
father did not stop when the (Hacienda Luisita) strike ended. Other issues
were raised against him such as my father’s opposition to the charter
change and his condemnations of the (extra-judicial) killings,” Ramento
He said the death threats
were so numerous that in spite of the danger it posed, it has become a
joke in the family.
The younger Ramento said that
his father was unfazed by the threats and he continued with his church
duties and his involvement with people’s organizations.
Aside from Fr. Tadena and
Bishop Ramento, IFI priests Fr. Mario Quince, Fr. Greg Lacanera, Fr. Terry
Revollido and Fr. Gilbert Garcia also experienced harassments and
Fr. Lacanera told GLNS they
all received death threats sent through text messages. The threats, he
said, intensified after Fr. William Tadena was killed.
He said the text messages
contained words such as “Ikaw ang susunod” (You will be next),
“Isang bala ka lang” (One bullet is all it takes),” and “Dahil sa
pakikialam nyo sa Hacienda Luisita” (Because of you’re meddling in
He said invariably, all of
them received the same text messages as they came.
Order of battle
He said they were also
included in the military’s “hit list” or “order of battle” [OB].
Bishop Ramento, at one time,
sought the help of Tarlac governor Jose Yap to ask the military about
their inclusion in the OB. Three of the IFI priests were confirmed to be
in the military’s OB, according to Fr. Lacanera, and one of them is Bishop
Lacanera also confirmed that
the threats, harassments and surveillance did not end with the Hacienda
He said that during the
church meeting last October 2, Bishop Ramento expressed his hope that
their names may in time be removed from the OB but at the same time called
for greater vigilance because danger persists.
In May last year, three of
the priests suffered direct attacks from suspected military agents. Fr.
Quince was waylaid by gun-wielding men as he arrived home at his church in
Paniqui, Tarlac but he managed to evade his assailants.
Armed men knocked on the door
of the home of Fr. Lacanera in Pangasinan in the dead of the night. Also
in May last year, the chapel of Fr. Garcia in Gerona town was surrounded
by soldiers as they slept. Only the presence of family and parishioners
prevented what the priests described as clear attempts on their lives.
All of the priests have taken
measures to insure their safety.
Fr. Terry Revollido
said the IFI is under attack because it is the church “of the workers, the
peasants and other poor people.”
In his homily at the wake of
Bishop Ramento in Tarlac City he said that the bishop died because he
fulfilled the church’s mission to be on the side of the people and stood
up against evils being committed by those in power.
Sr. Cecille Ruiz said that “even the immediate circumstances that led to
the death of the beloved bishop point to something more than a common
Sr. Riuz said that the
killing spree let loose by President Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya may have
taken a new form after public opinion snow-balled to condemn the
motorcycle-riding “death squads.”
“Bishop Ramonte was in the
forefront of the popular movement demanding the ouster of the Arroyo
regime. Only a government that is illegitimate, corrupt and totally
disregards the basic rights of the people can benefit from the death of
Bishop Ramento,” Ruiz said. Gitnang Luzon News Service/Posted
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