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Bishop Alberto Ramento Murdered

by staff |
October 4, 2006
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Fight Back! News Service is circulating the following statement from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on the murder of Bishop Alberto Ramento.

The NDFP is an alliance of revolutionary organizations drawing from different sectors of Filipino society, including trade unions, peasants, women, students and religious organizations. The NDFP includes the insurgent New Peoples Army (NPA) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

4 October 2006

Killing a Man of Peace Underlines GRP's Total War at All Costs

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemns in the most unequivocal terms the cowardly murder of Bishop Alberto Ramento, a Filipino Church leader, a man of peace, a bishop of the poor and a consistent human rights defender.

The NDFP deeply values and highly esteems the significant role fulfilled by Bishop Ramento in striving for a just and lasting peace. In September 1998, the NDFP Negotiating Panel nominated him as an Independent Observer in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The NDFP is also deeply grateful for his key role in the release of political prisoners.

We hold the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) particularly its death squads and special psychological warfare operators responsible for the treacherous and brutal slaying of Bishop Alberto Ramento. A former Supreme Bishop and Chairperson of the Supreme Council of Bishops of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) and provincial leader of the human rights organization Karapatan, Bishop Ramento was stabbed dead in the early morning of October 3 in Tarlac.

Bishop Ramento knew he was courting the ire and retaliation of the reactionary government starting with the Marcos dictatorship and lately the Arroyo regime, for being a staunch critic of government, for defending the poor and denouncing gross and systematic human rights violations. He had received death threats from Arroyo’s military and police forces long before they finally cornered him inside the IFI parish church in Tarlac.

The reactionary Philippine National Police should also be castigated for irresponsibly and absurdly pointing to robbery as the motive even without thorough investigation. Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya plotters are obviously using a new dastardly tactic of assassinating staunch critics and progressive activists and making it appear as a robbery or any other common crime. By pointing to robbery as the motive for the killing, the GRP is attempting to rob any meaning to the life of an outstanding and progressive religious leader. The role of the reactionary PNP, in accordance with a new operational plan forged with the reactionary Armed Forces of the Philippines, is to cover the tracks of Arroyo’s death squads – or even the trail of its own hitmen – release premature findings and, worse, blame the New People’s Army for the killings.

The whole nation should view with serious alarm this latest extra-judicial execution. Bishop Ramento was a convenor of the Pilgrims for Peace and a staunch advocate of peace talks between the NDFP and the GRP in pursuit of a just and lasting peace. For a ranking Church leader and peace advocate to be included in the military’s hit list only confirms long-standing perceptions that the Arroyo regime desires no peace and is bent on waging an insane total war against its most effective critics, dissenters and movers for her ouster no matter who gets hurt.

Once again, the Arroyo regime wants to send a message to those against her regime, including the socially-concerned Church community, that they are “state enemies” and those who resist political persecution are targets of its anti-insurgency campaign.

The Arroyo regime is all wrong if it expects its murderous frenzy to silence her political critics. It will only continue to foment more indignation and fuel bigger mass struggles in the belief that the only way to stop these senseless killings is to oust Arroyo and bring her assassins and butcher generals to people’s revolutionary justice.

We join the family of Bishop Ramento, the Philippine Independent Church Community, the ecumenical peace movement in the Philippines and abroad, and the poor farmers and workers who loved Bishop Ramento in condemning this latest abominable crime and in mourning his death. Bishop Ramento did not die in vain. The consistent role that he led in the defense of human rights, peace advocacy and defense of the rights of the marginalized will continue to inspire the people in their struggle for freedom, democracy and a just and lasting peace.