â€œI KNOW THEY ARE GOING TO KILL ME NEXT BUT NEVER WILL I ABANDON MY DUTY TO GOD AND MY MINISTRY TO THE PEOPLEâ€
(A statement of Bp. Alberto B. Ramento to his family)
The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) has once again made a precious offering in the continuing task of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the brutal killing of the Most Reverend Alberto B. Ramento, the 9th Obispo Maximo of the church.
The good bishop was slain by faceless assassins who broke through the rectory where he was staying at around four oâ€clock in the morning of October 03, 2006 in the Parish of San Sebastian, Tarlac City. He was awakened in his sleep when the assassins had entered his room and stabbed him seven times to death. We denounce in the strongest possible terms this barbaric and dastardly act against a man of the cloth within the premises of his own church.
Initial police investigation reports point to the incident as a mere case of robbery with homicide. However, the Ramento family, the clergy and the faithful of the Diocese of Tarlac believe that the motive is much deeper than what has come out from the spot investigation. There are glaring indications that Bishop Ramentoâ€s murder was thoroughly planned and politically motivated. We believe that the brutal killing was the inevitable consequence of his principled engagement with the people and their struggle for the fullness of life.
Bishop Ramento, aside from being a well-loved pastor by his clergy and faithful, has earned the reputation as a social prophet, and an icon in the nationalist struggle of the Filipino masses with his uncompromising stand for national sovereignty and patrimony. He was a true advocate of just peace. As a matter of fact, Bishop Ramento is part of the monitoring group in the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP).
He was a known figure in the ecumenical movement in and outside the country. Bishop Ramento has served as the chairperson of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP). He was also a co-chairperson of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) which is composed of bishops from the various churches in the Philippines.
Bishop Ramento, as the Chairman of the IFI Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB), has strongly condemned the state of political repression and grave situation of human rights violation in the country. He has particularly denounced the unabated extra-judicial killings of militant leaders, social activists, lawyers, journalists, church people and innocent civilians under the watch of the current administration. As an outspoken critic of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he has consistently questioned the legitimacy of her presidency, and urged her to step down from office. In the last pastoral letter he signed as Supreme Council of Bishops chairman, Bishop Ramento had urged the faithful â€œto find courage and confront the darkness that is engulfing the very soul of the nation and continue to thread the path towards the establishment of a just society under a government that genuinely serves the interest and welfare of the Filipinos.â€
Honored as the â€œBishop of the Poor Peasants and Workers,â€ Bishop Ramento has earned the love and respect of the farm workers at Hacienda Luisita, a vast sugar plantation in Tarlac, as he rallied support to their cause and advocated for their struggle.
The people behind his death might think that they have silenced him and maimed the prophetic voice of the church. They are mistaken. His death has become like a candle in a burning incense, sparking more fire, enflaming the hearts of the clergy and faithful of the IFI to remain faithful to her pro-people and pro-labor heritage. Indeed, we grieved over his death, yet we celebrate his life.
They may have taken his life by opening his body with wounds â€“ but these wounds have become the doorway from which Bishop Ramentoâ€s valiant spirit has been poured out and shared to many.
Truly, the death of Bp. Alberto B. Ramento is a great loss not only for the IFI but also for the ecumenical movement and peoplesâ€ organizations. The IFI strongly urges the authorities to immediately conduct a thorough and impartial investigation on the murder of Bishop Ramento and bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice.
We ask the prayers of the faithful for Bp. Alberto B. Ramento, a fatherly pastor, a social prophet, an uncompromising nationalist, a peacemaker, and a champion of the people’s cause, who now joins his Creator. As we mourn the death of a beloved member of the IFI family, may we find inspiration from his life and death even as we commit to stand firmly for what he believed in and fought for. Let his death find meaning in our continuing resolve to live-out the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ upon which Bishop Ramento dedicated his life.
Pro Deo et Patria,
â€ THE MOST REVEREND GODOFREDO J. DAVID
11th Obispo Maximo
04th October 2006
City of Manila