Bayan Warns Against Cover-Up in Ramento Murder

Oct. 04, 2006

MANILA — There should be no cover-up in the investigation of the death of Obispo Maximo Alberto Ramento. This was the concern aired by the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan a day after the activist bishop from Tarlac was stabbed dead in his convent.

The sweeping conclusions made by the Tarlac PNP tend to oversimplify the reasons for the murder of Bishop Ramento. We warn the PNP not to cover-up any of the possible angles in the Ramento murder, including his active political involvement, said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

Reyes said that from initial reports gathered at the scene of the crime, Ramento died of seven stab wounds, most of which were fatal.

There appears to be a real intent to kill Ramento, he said.

The problem with authorities now is that everything is being subject to whitewashing to save the image of the administration. The Task Force Usig has done it. The Melo Commission is doing it. And we fear that the investigators of the Ramento murder might do the same, for the sake of political expediency, Reyes said.

The killing of Ramento was the first recorded activist death since September 15, according to Bayan. Until that time when Arroyo was in Europe, there were no immediate reports of any killings of activists.

What is even more disturbing with the death of Ramento is that the perpetrators knew he was a high ranking religious leader, yet that did not stop them from killing him. Religious affiliation is no longer a deterrent for the killers, Reyes said.

Several pastors from Protestant churches have been killed under the Arroyo regime mainly because of their political involvement in workers strikes, land disputes and anti-mining and human rights advocacy.

The incident can also be seen as a calibrated attempt at suppressing church groups. The perpetrators may be starting off with Protestants now. If this goes unchecked, it will only be a matter of time before Catholics are next, Reyes said.

All civil libertarians, as well as the members of various faiths, must condemn the brutal murder of a man of peace and bishop of the poor, Reyes added.

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