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Cops confess participation in EJKs, seek Church protection

Police officials allegedly involved in extrajudicial killings under the government’s anti-drug campaign have sought the protection of the Catholic Church, said outgoing Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President Socrates Villegas on Monday, Oct. 2.

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Photo courtesy of Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila.

Police officials involved in the extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign against drugs have sought the protection of the Catholic Church, said outgoing Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President Socrates Villegas on Monday, Oct. 2.

“They have expressed their desire to come out in the open about their participation in extrajudicial killings and summary executions. Their consciences are troubling them,” Villegas said in a statement.

The Lingayen-Dagupan prelate pointed out that the whistleblowers, whom he did not name, have approached him and other priests to “seek sanctuary, succor and protection.”

Villegas, moreover, affirmed the safety of the witnesses if they desire to stay with the Church.

“If their preference is to stay with us in the Church, they will not be turned over to the State under its own witness-protection program,” he said.

Villegas also stated that the Church is willing to provide refuge for the policemen and their families when their stories are proven accurate.

“We will look prudently into the sincerity of their motives and the veracity of their stories. Within the bounds of Church and civil laws, we express our willingness to grant them accommodation, shelter and protection (including their families if necessary). The hospitality, comfort and acceptance that they seek from the Church will be attended to,” he assured.

He added, “We are likewise putting our Ministry of Mercy at the service of these law enforcers who need the hospitality of the Church.”

Villegas urged the priests in Lingayen to secure the safety of these police officers as the clerics “open their hearts and their rectories, the convents of religious communities and seminaries as well as other secure buildings.”

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The Church will not force the witnesses to testify, but when they decide to reveal themselves, “every means must be provided for a fair, accurate and unconstrained or unrestrained testimony that may be used in evidence,” the statement read.

The testimonies of the law enforcers will be recorded in the form of affidavits and depositions, with the assistance of a competent independent counsel, said Villegas.

According to data from the Philippine National Police as of July this year, 3,451 suspected drug personalities had been killed in legitimate operations. However, there is no official record yet on drug-related vigilante killings.

In a report by human rights group Amnesty International, the group claimed that some police officers are paid to kill alleged drug offenders.

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Dagohoy: Do not prioritize personal ambition over genuine service

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University Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy encouraged the graduating seniors in the annual Baccalaureate Mass to disregard any personal ambitions and be of service to others as they enter the professional world.

Dagohoy told 8,794 graduating Thomasians that they should not forget to take with them the values they learned in the University and become a role model for others to emulate.

“[T]he test of you being Thomasian, also begins. Be proud of your beginning and make your life a legacy for other Thomasians to emulate and to follow,” he said.

He also said that success is not just about one’s self.

“Success is not merely our own making for everything that we do, would never be enough to unleash the power of our dreams unless God touches us by his hand,” Dagohoy said.

The mass was followed by the imposition of the Thomasian Mission crosses, the taking of the Thomasian Pledge, and the candle-lighting ceremony.

The baccalaureate mass ended with a pyromusical show accompanied with songs from “The Greatest Showman.” It was followed by the symbolic exit through the Arch of Centuries, marking the end of a Thomasian’s journey in the University.

The number of candidates for graduation per faculty and college this year is as follows: Accountancy (712), Architecture (274), Arts and Letters (1,187), Canon Law (16), Civil Law (126), Commerce and Business Administration (711), Education (371), Engineering (777), Pharmacy (774), Faculty of Philosophy (22), Fine Arts and Design (547), Graduate School (250), Institute of Information and Computing Sciences (546), Institute of Physical Education and Athletics (143), Medicine and Surgery (479 doctors and 20 clinical audiologists), Music (50), Nursing (361), Rehabilitation Sciences (248), Sacred Theology (58), Science (660), and Tourism and Hospitality Management (462). -Marc Dela Paz & Angelika Ortega

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Demand justice for slain Cagayan priest despite impunity, Manila auxiliary bishop urges

“We are calling for justice at nakaka-discourage ngayon magtawag ng justice na hindi tumatalim,” Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said.

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Photo by Alecsandra Go/TomasinoWeb.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo urged Thomasians to demand justice for slain Cagayan priest and UST Philosophy alumnus Mark Anthony Ventura during a mass for clergy and religious people killed by violence at the Santissimo Rosario Parish last Friday, May 4.

“We are calling for justice at nakaka-discourage ngayon magtawag ng justice na hindi tumatalim,” Pabillo said during his homily.

In the same homily, he lauded Ventura as “a man who suffered because of his work for the kingdom of God.”

“Somehow Father Mark Anthony has fulfilled what Jesus said that no slave is greater than his master. If they persecuted them, the Lord who is our master, we can expect, if we are true to our mission, that we also would suffer persecution,” Pabillo stated further.

Nonetheless, he urged Thomasians to not keep silent in the face of violence and impunity.

“So whatever it is, we cannot keep silent. Gamitin natin ngayon ang mga instrument na nasa kamay natin at wala nang makakasabi na ‘wala ako magawa kasi wala akong boses,’” Pabillo called.

 

‘Culture of impunity’ killed Ventura

Pabillo lamented Ventura’s death as a product of “the culture of impunity,” continuing in his homily that “pati na yung alagad ng batas ay kasama sa paggawa ng krimen.”

Ventura, 37, was shot dead by unidentified assailants right after Sunday Mass last April 29, at Gattaran, Cagayan while he was blessing children.

A priest for almost seven years, Ventura was also known for his staunch stance against mining and for helping indigenous peoples in Cagayan. His death follows the killing of activist-priest Marcelito Paez December last year.

Commenting on the recent cases of clergy killings as well as the shooting of Dumaguete broadcaster Edmund Sestoso last April 30, Pabillo told TomasinoWeb that “Ang problema natin diyan ay yung impunity nga na walang pananagutan at walang nananagot. Hindi nila mapanagot. Kaya, either napakahina nila o kaya complicit sila, kasama sila.”

Pabillo also said that he believes the murder of Ventura is economically and politically motivated.

“Wala ka namang papatayin na pari kung walang interes ‘yan, political o economic interests. Ibig sabihin, may tinatamaan diyan that they have to kill somebody to do that,” he stated.

Embattled Australian nun Patricia Fox, who was also present during the mass, urged an end to impunity.

“Siyempre, every life is sacred. Walang karapatang agawin ang buhay. No one has the right take someone else’s life and we have to start bringing people to justice. Impunity has to stop,” Fox told TomasinoWeb.

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Fox joined Pabillo as he led a candle lighting vigil at the Martyr’s Carillion for Ventura right after the mass. Progressive groups also led a separate candle lighting protest for Fox and Ventura at the Gate 2 of the University following the vigil.–H.M. Amoroso, P. Jamilla

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Tagle: Spread the good news, put a stop to fake news

“Let us put a stop to fake news. We are not called and consecrated to bring fake news [but] only good news,” Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged during the Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday.

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Photo courtesy of CBCP News.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged faithful on Thursday to halt the spread of fake news and disinformation in the country and instead called on people to evangelize with the good news.

“Let us put a stop to fake news. We are not called and consecrated to bring fake news [but] only good news, especially through the integrity of our lives,” Tagle said during his homily at the Chrism Mass at the Manila Cathedral.

Tagle also stressed how fake news proliferates through manipulation and disrespect of the truth.

“True communication happens in the context of a covenant relationship. Manipulation thrives in the context of disrespect. That’s why fake news proliferates,” Tagle said.

According to Tagle, spreading disformation contradicts God’s call of evangelization, which is about sharing good news.

“‘I can deliberately deceive people because I have no covenant relationship with them. I don’t care. I only want to manipulate the truth so I get what I ought.’ That is not evangelization,” he said.

He added: “Evangelization is a fact of daily life, we always communicate with good news. We cannot contain it. Good news begs to be shared. And good news begs for hearers of the good news.”

Tagle, moreover, reminded the clergy to listen and be attentive of God through the poor.

“It also requires attentiveness to the human condition – attentiveness to the poor, to the captives, to the blind, to the prisoners, those who are shackled, those who cannot breathe. We need to silently listen to them, and listening to their stories, we are reduced to further silence,” he said.

The Manila Archibishop has repeatedly slammed the rise of disinformation for political propaganda. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines also released a pastoral letter against fake news last year, reminding Filipinos to “preach the truth,” avoid and eradicate fake news.

Last year, the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media have started the probe on the spread of misinformation, especially on social media. The committee held its second hearing on fake news last Jan. 30.

Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares, meanwhile, has filed Senate Bill No. 1680, which seeks to penalize public officials that will peddle fake news reports. Sen. Joel Villanueva also filed Senate Bill No. 1492 that proposes to sanction false news.

The Chrism Mass, which is celebrated every Maundy Thursday, is a religious service in the Catholic Church where bishops bless oils to be used for the sacraments for the liturgical year, and where priests gather in their respective dioceses to renew their vows.—H. M. Amoroso

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