Geneva, 10 October 2006
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The World Council of Churches has received with deep shock and grief the news of the brutal stabbing of Bishop Alberto Ramento, of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. Bishop Ramento was a soft-spoken kind person and a church leader who led a simple life. He was committed to the poor and marginalised of his diocese in the rural area. Being close to his people he was aware and understood their sufferings, trials and tribulations. Many a times he came to their rescue when they were victimised and harassed by the security forces. The position he took in defence of his congregation was not appreciated by those in power and he was frequently warned to change his ways. He was often subjected to death threats. In one of his statements the Bishop said, "I know they are going to kill me next. But never will I abandon my duty to God and my ministry to the people."
Little did he realise that soon he would succumb to his prophetic words. He died in harness while serving God and his people.
The attention of the government was drawn several times to the increase in the spiral of violence and extra-judicial killings in the rural areas, but it did little to redress the situation. Despite protests and demonstrations, the security forces of the government of Philippines continued to indulge in victimisation, torture and extra-judicial killings on the pretext of fighting the terrorist threat in the region. These wanton acts of killings and destruction are carried out with complete impunity by the officials of the army and para military forces sometimes with the implicit support of the government. Little has been done to arrest this trend despite protests by churches, both within and outside the country.
It is in this background that the WCC Central Committee, meeting in Switzerland 30 August to 6 September 2006, unequivocally condemned the extra-judicial killings and expressed its condolences to the families of the victims. It also called on the government of Philippines to disband death squads, private militias and para military forces operating outside the official chain of government command and to hold accountable any members of the military found to be indulging in these illegal acts. Finally the statement issued by the Central Committee called for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into these extra-judicial killings.
The World Council of Churches assures you that it will continue to monitor these developments and will be ready to act with partners in bringing these atrocities to the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The World Council of Churches requests you to please convey our heartfelt condolences to the family of the late Bishop Alberto Ramento.
Yours in Christ,
Acting General Secretary