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WE THIRST FOR PEACE (IN BULACAN)

*published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 18, 2006


Peace is our prayer, hope and commitment. Peace is when the government no longer
allots an indecent percentage of the national budget to military spending but t
o education and other services to the people. Peace is when communities are no l
onger harassed by military troops, taking their chickens and rice harvests. Ther
e can be no genuine peace when basic human rights are trampled upon and when the
people live in a climate of constant fear and intimidation.
Statistics show an upsurge in the cases of human rights violation in the provinc
e of Bulacan since the deployment of the 24th Infantry Batallion to augment the
forces of the 56th Infantry Battalion, and the assignment of Maj. Gen. Jovito Pa
lparan as the Commanding Officer of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine
Army in Central Luzon last September 2005.
Since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took office in 2001 and up to 2005, docu
mented human rights violations in the province alone numbered at 36, of which 7
are cases of extrajudicial killings and 2 are enforced disappearances, not to me
ntion the cases of physical harassment and mental torture affecting more that 1,
300 workers, peasants, fisherfolks, urban poor and youths.
From January to March 2006 alone, 13 civilians were killed, excluding many civil
ian and barangay officials who are victims of enforced disappearance, physical a
nd mental torture and house burnings perpetrated by armed bonnet wearing men tha
t residents suspect as having links with the military and in some cases, victims
identify the perpetrators as elements of the 56th IB and 24th IB of the Philipp
ine Army.
The victims are deprived of their basic right to live guaranteed no less than by
our faith and by existing laws, both national and international. Without any f
ormal charges, they were arbitrarily arrested or forcibly taken and even killed
in the allegation that they are NPA sympathizers or supporters. This is contrary
to the constitutional principle of presumption of innocence. The perpetrators a
cted as the accusers, the judges and the executioners.
It is saddening however that the present administration is somewhat indifferent
to these alarming cases of human rights violations in the whole country, includi
ng Bulacan where victims are civilians, suspected of being CPP-NPA sympathizers
and activists identified with the progressive leftist groups. In a democracy lik
e ours, rights of every citizen should be respected, regardless of religion, pol
itical beliefs etc.
In this context, we appeal to President Arroyo to immediately conduct a prompt,
thorough and impartial investigation of such human rights violations which have
no place in a Christian nation such ours. These investigations should lead to th
e prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators so that authorities may thwart
the "climate of impunity" and could send a clear message to all members of the p
olice, military and other security forces that involvement in, or acquiescence t
o such human rights violations will never be tolerated.
We also appeal to immediately pull out these military troops stationed in the pr
ovince of Bulacan, for it is ironical that the rampant human rights violations o
ccurred during the deployment of additional troops, particularly the 24th IB PA
under Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan. How come that in the Tamayo Farms Massacre in S
an Ildefonso, where 5 civilians were killed and 2 were forcibly taken by 15 arme
d bonnet-wearing men, the farm is located just 100 meters away from a military c
heckpoint and 200 meters away from a military detachment?
As people of faith, we are called to be human rights advocates and peace builder
s. The peace that we should seek is the peace based on justice where human dignit
y is upheld and no one is denied fullness of life.
"Ang Manlilikha ay ipinagkatiwala ang buhay ng tao sa kanyang mapanagutang panga
ngalaga, hindi upang gamitin ito ng walang pakundangan kundi upang alagaan ito n
g may katarungan at tapat na pag-ibig." (pastoral letter of Bishop Oliveros)
Condensed from the statement "We Thirst for Peace (in Bulacan)" signed by concer
ned leaders and citizens of Bulacan. The signature drive to support this stateme
nt is still on-going.
Signatories : Most Rev. Jose F. Oliveros, D.D. -Bishop, Diocese of Malolos, Rev.
Dr. Solito K. Toquero-Bishop, United Methodist Church-Manila Episcopal Area, Rt
. Rev. Raymundo Rivera, Bishop- Iglesia Filipina Independiente-Diocese of Bulaca
n-Bataan, Bishop Elmer Bolocon-OIC Bishop, United Church of Christ in the Phils.
North Luzon, Most Rev. Joseph V. Galaroza, CSC D.D.- Bishop, Igreja Catolica Ap
ostolica Brasileira, Diocese of Malolos: Mons Andres Valera-Vicar General, Mons.
Filemon Capiral, Mons. Epitacio Castro, Mons. Enrico Santos-Episcopal Vicars, M
ons. Moises Andrade, Jr.-Chancellor, Fr. Pablo Legaspi-Vice Chancellor, Mons. Ba
rt Santos, Jr-Rector, Commission Heads-Fr. Dennis Espejo-Service, Fr. Reynaldo S
an Juan-Liturgy, Fr. Albert
Suatengco-Clergy,Fr. Mar DJ Arenas-Temporal Goods, Fr. Angelito Santiago-Youth,
Vicar Foranes: Fr. Javer M. Joaquin, Fr. Ady Vergara, Fr. Leo de Jesus, Fr. Lon
Balagtas, Fr. Rey Mutuc, Fr. Jovi Sebastian, Fr. Rolando de Leon, Fr. Bert Lunod
, Mons. Jaime Garcia, Mons. Manuel Villaroman, Mons. Enrique Mag-isa, Mons. Jose
Antonio Galvez,Diocesan Priests-Fr. Isidro Rodriguez, Fr. Johann Sebastian,Fr.
Mario Mendiola, Fr. Len Coronel, Fr. Ety Ignacio, Fr. Francis Cortez, Fr. Dars C
abral, Fr. Sonny Dazo, Fr. Bobby Mariano, Fr. Arnel Camacho,Fr. Conrad Santos, F
r . Mariano Lucas, Fr. Lazaro
Benedictos, Fr. Jimmy Palaganas, Fr. Pros Tenorio, Fr. Jigo Garcia, Fr. Romy Sas
i, Fr. Nicanor Lalog, Fr. Regino Asuncion, Fr. Ricardo Moraga, Fr. Nap Baltazar,
Fr. Ronnie Tuazon, Fr. Anthony Chan, Fr. Ramil Juat, Fr. Romy Dionisio, Fr. Ave
l Sampana, Fr. Virgilio Ramos, Fr. Narciso Sampana, Fr. Rodel Ponce, Fr. Alejand
ro Enriquez, Fr. Ventura Galman, Fr. Vince Reyes, Fr. Romulo Perez, Fr. Expedito
Caleon, Fr. Quirico Cruz, Fr. Von Tentangco, Fr. Fernando Placibe, Fr. Candido
Ersando, Fr. Roman Caleon, Fr. Ramon Garcia, Fr. Marcelo Sanchez, Fr. Rufino Sul
it, Fr. Teodorico Trinidad, Fr.
Lamberto Tomas, Fr. Rodel Cristobal, Fr. Manuel Anastacio, Fr. Irineo Cabasal, F
r. Jay Lina, Fr. Coco Tibayan, Fr. Hilario San Juan-Sr. Niceta Vargas OSA-Presid
ent, University of Regina Carmeli, Sr. Virginia Villaluz, OP-Superior General, U
nited Methodist Church: District Superintendents-Rev. Ciriaco Francisco-North Di
strict, Rev. Ismael Sarangaya, Sr.-South District, Rev. Elias delos Santos-East
District, Rev. Generoso Ocampo-Church and Society,Pastors,Deaconesses,Lay-Rev. J
aime Martin, Evalyn Fullido, Ruby Gunio, Nette Benedictos, Mirasol Ramos, Cleo J
avier, Sheba dela Cruz, Francisco Sta. Ana, Roland Martinez, Marinel Laderas, Jo
hn Santillan, Ruther Pilien, Raquel Palacio, Amy Manforte, Amie Ronda, Blesie An
geles, Lilia delos Santos, Aurea Mariano, Mec Estrella Villanueva, Rev. Arnel Vi
llareal, Rewel Javier, May Cosicol, Elenor Sarangaya, Malou Mercado, Miriam Pala
con, Ogie Mercado Iglesia Filipina Independiente: Fr. Santie Azaula-Vicar Genera
l, Fr. Nhel del Madrid, Jr.-Peacemakers Diocesan Priests-Fr. Jojit Sayas, Fr . R
oderick Yeco, Fr. Raymart Sacalamitao, Fr. Mario Quince, Fr. Nick Ventura, Fr. Pa
ul Sacalamitao, Fr. Eric Miranda, Fr. Elmerick Azucena, Atty. Luisita Agbayani-N
atl VP, WOPIC United Church of Christ in the Phils: Rev. Romeo Tomas, Rev. Alfre
do Faurillo, Rev. Samuel Salen, Deac Herminia Salen, Ptr. Jerome Salen,ICAB: Fr.
Roger Martinez, Jr.
Local Government Units
Representatives: Wilhelmino Sy Alvarado-First District, Pedro Pancho-Second Dist
rict, Lorna Silverio-Third District, Reylina Nicolas-Fourth District, Eduardo Ro
quero, M.D.-SJDM Board Members: Raul Mendoza, Pat Laderas, Ernesto Sulit, Pacifi
co Aniag, Rod Santos, Glenn Santos, Jon-Jon Mendoza, Ike delos Santos, Daniel Fe
rnando Municipal Mayors: Ambrosio Cruz, Jr.- President, League of Municipalitie
s-Bulacan, Leonardo de Leon-Angat, Ma. Elizabeth Villegas-Bulacan, Felix Ople-Ha
gonoy, James de Jesus-Calumpit, Zoilito Santiago-Obando, Anastacia Vistan-Plarid
el, Eduardo Alarilla-Meycauayan, Elpidio Castillo-Pulilan Municipal Vice Mayors
: Juan Magbitang-President,
Vice-Mayors League, Gilberto Santos-Angat, Rizaldy Samonte-Bulacan, Reynaldo San
Pedro-SJDM, Vicente Esguerra-Pulilan, Conchita Beltran-Paombong, Nonilo Vergara
-Balagtas, Juanito Santiago-Marilao, Jose Jose-Guiginto, Kennedy Valdez-Bocaue,
Leo Yap-Plaridel, Municipal Councilors: Pulilan-Bernardino Santos, Marcelo Enriq
uez, Marcel Espinosa, Deejay Santos, Billy Ilaga, Manuelito Reyes, Guiginto-Ari
el Arceo, Calumpit-Michael Fermin, San Ildefonso-Isagani Illescas, Leomar Garcia
, Henry Castro, Plaridel-Lori B. Surio, Bocaue-Dennis Carpio Heads of Provl Govt
Offices: Sienna Maureen
Hilario-Chief of Staff,Office of the Governor, Alicia Javier-OSSC, Atty. Eugenio
Resurreccion-Legal, Cynthia Abiol-HRMO, Rowena Tiongson-PSWD, Jesus Perez-Women
's Center, Irineo Mendoza-Gen. Services, Marina Flores-Budget, Marites Friginal-
Accounting, Ricardo Medina Jr.- PENRO, Jovito Saguinsin-PCEDO Provincial Govt. S
taff : Medy Santiago, Lucila Dionido, Myla Reyes, Leonida Quintas, Mary Joy Tang
uiran, Razchel Javier, Eugene Geronimo Jr., Diane Deinla, Carmencita Diaz, Gina
Candelaria, Lucio Mariano, Hansel Evangelista, Alfredo Orbita, Marcelo Santiago,
Larry Sebastian, Rizza Sanchez, Marites Barcibe, Jing de Guia, Josefina Buenave
ntura, Rosanna de Castro, Dindo Dionisio, Ernie Clemente, Renato Francisco, Arle
ne de Leon, Yolanda de Leon, Mary Rose Roque, Irene Crisostomo, Jefferson Lopez,
Mel dela Cruz, Perlyn Mendiola, Ma. Rowena Maclid, Athenie Bautista, Ponciano S
illano Jr., Rosario Racquel Bunag, Jay Rodriguez, May Mendoza, Eric Tanjuan, Lor
eta Baltao, Ma. Ferlina Garcia, Norilyn Mendieta, Rochelle Mangulabnan, Marichie
l Manimbu, Amalia Agcaoili, Ma. Gloria Carrillo, Norberto Arevalo, Rosario Bened
ictos, Cornelia de Jesus, Jesusa Mateo,
Mariano Baltazar
Municipal Staff: Engr. Arcadio Sulit, Kitchie Jose, Romeo Garcia, Danny Santos
Lawyers: Judge Manny Siayngco-President,LAKAN HUKOM, Atty. Purificacion Bernabe
-Secretary, IBP-Bulacan, Atty. Sherry Jane Quinonez, Atty. Manny Arcilla-Directo
rs, IBP, Atty. Liberato Reyes-Former Provl. Prosecutor, Atty. Emilio Bermas, Att
y. Glen Palubon, Atty. Reneiro Payumo, Atty. John Vargas, Atty. Fermin Arceo Co
ncerned Individuals : Magdalena Reyes, M.D.-Commissioner, PKKB, Ramon Posadas-Fo
rmer Board Member, Jun Aniag-Former Representative, Elmer Maniego and Jake Magla
las-Commission on Human Rights- Region III, and many others.