Bishop's Statement on the Brutal Slaying of Bishop Alberto Ramento
October 8, 2006
Listen, you rulers of Israel! You are supposed to be concerned about justice, yet you hate what is good and you love what is evil. You skin my people alive and tear the flesh off their bones. You eat my people up. You strip off their skin, break their bones and chop them up like meat for the pot. The time is coming when you will cry out to the Lord, but he will not answer you. He will not listen to your prayers, for you have done evil.
Until when shall our prophets be killed? Until when shall injustice prevail in our land?
We are deeply saddened by the brutal slaying of another prophet of God in the person of Bishop Alberto Ramento of the Philippine Independent Church last October 3, 2006 at San Sebastian Parish in Tarlac City. We deeply mourn the loss of a man whose strong faith conviction was to serve the least of God’s people. As bishop of the United Methodist Church – Manila Episcopal Area, I condemn in the strongest possible term this barbaric and treacherous act.
The Philippine National Police’s easy dismissal of the case as robbery with homicide is deplorable. Too much doubt has already been cast on this theory from the start since the good Bishop, as prophet of our time, has been known to be an outspoken critic of corrupt government policies and a staunch advocate of human rights, peace and justice. His life was lived in solidarity with the most marginalized sector of this society. He was well loved by farmers and workers. He denounced corruption and fought for good governance. He opposed and actively campaigned against human rights violations and extra-judicial killings. Surely, this prophet has earned the ire of the powers-that-be. How can his death be easily dismissed as a simple case of robbery? And lo, can his timeless principle of genuine servant leadership with which he lived be stolen from him? His passion for truth, justice and peace is his treasure. The people in authorities whom he criticized for abuse of power robbed his life for they feel threatened by his prophetic stance and they can only envy him for his stature.
The wave of killings exposes the incapacity of state agencies to protect the people from being murdered even in the safest confines of the homes, or as in the case of Bishop Ramento, in the sacred grounds of the church. Extra-judicial and political killings continue amidst the reverberating call of the people to stop the killings. For many of the victims and their families, justice remains elusive.
Sacred lives have been sacrificed. Many of our prophet’s blood now watered the grounds on which we stand. But the people have never been cowed. Many continue to tread the same path where our prophets have trod. We are hopeful that truth and righteousness shall one day prevail. The God of peace and justice shall execute justice and those who killed God’s prophets shall face the wrath of God’s judgment.
In the spirit of solidarity, I join Bishop Ramento’s family, the Philippine Independent Church and the Ecumenical community in calling for a genuine and thorough investigation of the case with the aim of bringing the perpetrators to justice. Considering that the local authorities responsible for the investigation are engaged in elaborate efforts to frame up common robbers and cover up the real perpetrators, I join the families, friends and co-workers of all victims of extra-judicial killings in calling on the United Nations and other international bodies to conduct independent investigation on the cases.
Bishop Alberto Ramento’s legacy of servant leadership and genuine love for the people will be forever etched in the hearts, minds and beings of the people whom he served. It will inspire many seeds to bear the golden grains of peace, justice and genuine liberation.
“We hold governments responsible for the protection of the rights of the people . . ."
(The Political Community, UMC Social Principles)
BISHOP SOLITO K. TOQUERO
Manila Episcopal Area