Sunday, October 15, 2006
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (By BEN BALCE/ Oct. 14) -
HUMAN rights group Karapatan, bared over the weekend, that priests from the Philippine Independent Church have either received information that they are in the military’s order of battle or have been harassed by death threats.
The alleged list include Fr. Terry Revollido of Pangasinan, Fr. Romeo Tagud of Negros, Fr. Marco Sulayao of Panay, and Fr. Sonny Teleron of Western Mindanao, and this city’s PIC priest Fr. Roberto Ablon.
The Philippine Independent Church here reported that Fr. Ablon and the four other priests, received death threats following the murder of Bishop Alberto Ramento in Tarlac City.
Karapatan northern Mindanao coordinator Beberly Musni said Fr. Antonio Ablon received the threat through a text message on Friday at 4:45 p.m.
She said that like Ramento, Ablon is an outspoken critic of the Arroyo government , while the other activist priests and pastors are all members of PCPR and connected with the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
According to several militant groups, Ramento received death threats before he was found dead from multiple stab wounds in his convent Tuesday last week.
Musni said Ablon is also a secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan in the region and is a member of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) National Council based in Cagayan de Oro.
The text message said: “Fr. Ablon patay gani ang supreme bishop ikaw pa kaha, I-sample ka namo dinhi sa CDO” (Fr. Ablon, even the supreme bishop was killed, we will make you an example here in Cagayan de Oro).”
Musni said Ablon also asked the police to blotter the said cellular number for future reference and for possible tracing of the whereabouts of the suspect.
Musni said the message, which was sent from cellphone No. 09203546270, clearly warned that Ablon could be the next victim of extrajudicial killings.
“Still unknown, but at least I have the suspect’s cellular number,” Ablon said
Police on Friday said Ramento was not a case of extrajudicial killing as militants claim, but a simple case of robbery with homicide.
Police said four suspects who were arrested Thursday on Ramento’s killing were members of a criminal gang involved in robbery and cellphone snatching, among others.
Musni, however, said the text message allegedly came from the State Security Forces.
“We strongly suspect that the source of this message could only be the military agents who are dutiful in their mission to intimidate, suppress and brutally silence the voices of dissent that have exposed the fraud, corruption and human rights abuses of the Arroyo administration,” Karapatan said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Musni added that the group Karapatan is still conducting its own investigation on Ramento’s killing and has so far came up with an initial report that may not necessarily tally with the police claims.
“There are still things that don’t add up. There were death threats against Bishop Ramento just before his murder,” Musni said.