Luisita farmers honor Bishop Ramento, “Bishop of the Poor Peasants and Workers”

The Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) join the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) today in commemorating the 8th death anniversary of IFI Supreme Bishop Alberto B. Ramento who was killed by unknown assailants on October 3, 2006.

The late Bishop was honored as the “Bishop of the Poor Peasants and Workers”, when he earned the love and respect of farm workers in Hacienda Luisita for his staunch support to the historic sugar workers’ strike in 2004.

Bishop Ramento worked tirelessly to seek justice for the victims of the November 16, 2004 Hacienda Luisita Massacre. He actively joined international solidarity missions and consistently opposed the militarization of the sugar estate.

For his work as a fearless human rights advocate, Ramento earned the ire of the military, and received threats from elements led by “the butcher” General Jovito Palparan who was assigned in Central Luzon from 2005-2006. He then became a target for extra-judicial killing. Bishop Ramento was brutally stabbed in his rectory in Tarlac City.

Farmworkers believe that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is involved in the  systematic cover-up of the Ramento murder case. Police reports obscured  the political motives of the masterminds of the killing and made scapegoats of ordinary street-corner thieves. According to official police statements, Bishop Ramento was simply a victim of robbery with homicide.

Eight years after his death, justice remains elusive for Bishop Ramento with the Aquino administration’s special treatment for criminals like Palparan and with unabated rights violations in Hacienda Luisita.

Luisita farm workers will honor Bishop Ramento with an ecumenical service and tribute on October 16, 2014 in Hacienda Luisita. AMBALA and UMA will also pay tribute to Luisita strike supporters and labor leaders who also fell victim to extra-judicial killings in the month of October — Bayan-Muna Central Luzon Secretary General Florante Collantes  (killed October 15, 2005), Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union President and barangay Mapalacsiao Chairman Ricardo Ramos (killed October 25, 2005) and the most recent victim, Dennis dela Cruz of AMBALA who was found dead in the farmworkers’ collective farm on November 1, 2013.

The October 16 tribute to Bishop Ramento and other Luisita martyrs is part of a series of activities leading to the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre (HLMX) on November 16, 2014.

Gi Estrada
UMA Media Officer

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