Fight culture of impunity enveloping the country

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol and Jessa Mae O. Sotto July 11,2018 - 10:12 PM


ENOUGH is enough.

Redemptorist priests are calling on Filipinos to wake up and fight the culture of impunity and violence in the country, saying it has emboldened unscrupulous individuals to flout the law and kill people.

In a statement released on the 33rd anniversary of the abduction of Fr. Rudy Romano on Wednesday, the congregation said the atmosphere of fear, violence, and anxiety has enveloped the Philippines.

“The growing culture of impunity and apathy in our country which motivated heartless people to kill helpless brothers and sisters, including priests and pastors, are ominous signs that the evil spirit and its willing minions are determined to hurt Jesus through His Holy Church,” read a statement signed by Fr. Ariel Lubi, Superior of the Redemptorists’ vice province of Manila, and Fr. Copernicus Perez Jr., Superior of the congregation in Cebu.

“We cannot allow this to continue to happen. We beseech our fellow Filipinos to be vigilant and be the voice of the voiceless and no longer idly stand by in the face of Church persecution and blatant assault on the human rights of our people,” it added.

Thirty-three years ago, Fr. Romano, a Redemptorist priest, was abducted by armed men in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City. He was never seen again.

The 1985 disappearance of the militant priest was remembered by friends, seminarians and clergy members in a Mass and a candle lighting ceremony at the Redemptorist Church as well as a prayer service at the stone marker in Tisa, which describes the kidnappers as agents of “the deposed Marcos regime.”

Romano, 44, identified himself with the poor and joined protest actions denouncing human rights abuses.

“Thirty-three years have passed, and still no justice for Fr. Romano and other victims of martial law,” said the Redemptorist priests.

“Our mourning and lamentations become more intense and profound as we continue to witness these days the brutal deaths of our flocks, including our shepherd,” they added.

The Redemptorist community in the Philippines has one appeal to the government: “Stop Church persecution. Stop killing our people.”

While the statement did not mention any names, the congregation clearly alluded to the President Rodrigo Duterte on whose incumbency, the number of extrajudicially killings of drug suspects increased.

Fr. Crispin Mostajo, CssR, parish priest of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Cebu City, said the series of killings in the country has been very alarming.

“The Church will continue its mission to protect the sanctity of life. I hope the government will realize that the Church is not an enemy. We are partners and collaborators for the good of the society,” he said.

Catholic Church leaders in the country have condemned the series of killings of people, including members of the clergy.

On April 29, 2018, 37 year-old priest Mark Anthony Ventura, a human rights and anti-mining advocate, was shot dead after saying Mass in Gattaran town, Cagayan province.

Over a month laterr, on June 10, Fr. Richmond Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan was shot by unidentified men as he was preparing to say Mass at the Nuestra Señora de la Nieve Chapel in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija.

A suspect in the killing of Nilo was arrested by police last Thursday.

Last Dec. 4, 2017, Fr. Marcelito Paez was on board his vehicle when motorcycle-riding men gunned him down in Jaen town, Nueva Ecija province. Paez, a retired priest, facilitated the release of a political detainee.

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