Remembering Bishop Ramento
Eight years ago, cowards killed Bishop Alberto Ramento Jr., the ninth Obispo Maximo of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, thus putting an end to his acts of compassion, love, justice and servanthood. Bishop Ramento’s assassination not only shocked the world; it also confirmed, yet again, the decades-old climate of impunity plaguing the country. We hold the Arroyo administration, during whose rule the bishop was killed, accountable for the crime; more so the Aquino administration for failing to solve the case because of its ineptness, thus allowing human rights violations to continue to be committed with impunity.
Prior to his death, Bishop Ramento was widely known for his involvement in various organizations and movements advocating human rights, social justice, civil liberties and genuine peace. His actions reflected well his commitment to and passion for those causes, as well as his bias for the poor. His service to God and his country challenged a system that lived on the foundation of violence and exploitation.
As cochair of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum, he was among those who provided moral compass during the graft-ridden Arroyo regime. As chair of the Promotion of Church People’s Response-Central Luzon and of human rights group Karapatan-Tarlac, he provided pastoral guidance and sanctuary for those oppressed and marginalized by the state. As head of the Workers Assistance Center Inc., he stood side by side with economic zone workers demanding dignity and just and living wages. And as bishop of
Tarlac, he was an ardent supporter of the Hacienda Luisita farmers who were fighting for land.
Death threats hounded him every day. But like a true prophet, he didn’t falter, he never gave up. “I know they are going to kill me next, but never will I abandon my duty to God and my ministry to the people,” the bishop said.
Today, Bishop Ramento continues to inspire the church and strengthen its resolve in fighting for what is right in the face of continuing human rights abuses. Just last month, engineer Fidela “Delle” Salvador of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines was killed allegedly by Army troops while she was monitoring projects for poor communities in the Cordillera.
Meanwhile, presidential funds and other forms of pork barrel continue to fatten the pockets of politicians and sustain political patronage even as the level of corruption in government remains very scandalous. Pork is still evident in the proposed 2015 national budget even after the Supreme Court had ruled the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program illegal. And like previous presidents, Mr. Aquino is now railroading the approval by Congress of policies that would make the Filipino nation’s resources more vulnerable to foreign exploitation and plunder; and of Charter change to allow the extension of his term as president.
Justice to Bishop Ramento! Justice to all victims of extrajudicial killings! Let’s put an end to the climate of impunity!
Promotion of Church
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