This story was taken from Bulatlat, the Philippines's alternative weekly newsmagazine (
Vol. VI, No. 35, Oct. 8-14, 2006



Bishop’s 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.



Gitnang Luzon News Service

Posted by Bulatlat 


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.


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 missing.


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.


Death threats


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 said.


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.


Text messages


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 surveillance.


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 Hacienda Luisita).


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 Ramento.


Lacanera also confirmed that the threats, harassments and surveillance did not end with the Hacienda Luisita strike.


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.


Church mission


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.


Karapatan-Central coordinator 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 crime.”


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 by Bulatlat


© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Media Center

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