by Fr. Wilfredo M. Samson, SJ
THE increasing incidence of senseless killings and violence related to the drug problem is indeed morally alarming. Since President Rodrigo Duterte announced his desire to solve the drug crisis in our country, the daily killings of suspects involved in drug trade have became part of our morning news. We are one with the President in solving the menace of illegal drugs, but killing people – guilty or not – is not and never will be the solution. The solution to the problem is not killing the users but apprehending those who produce prohibited drugs.
According to PNP statistics, as of July 2018, 4,500 people were killed in legitimate police operations. (In reality) Sad to say, 23,518 were killed by “unidentified assailants” and 149,265 (so called) drug users were arrested all over the country.
Having garnered the highest EJK incidence, Kalookan City was tagged as the EJK capital of the Philippines. In Kalookan City, almost daily, someone is being murdered without mercy. Unfortunately, most of the victims are minors, innocent, and poor people.
This remorseful and dangerous reality, moved Bishop Virgilio “Ambo” David, the Bishop of Kalookan City, to lead the fight against EJK in his diocese. He recognizes the importance of healing and empowering the poor, since most of the EJK victims come from the poor segment of society.
As part of Bishop Ambo’s “Out of the box” program, he invited religious communities to live with “the poorest of the poor” in his diocese. He invited them to establish mission stations whose main objective is to cater to the needs of the poor, especially to the families of the victims of EJK. The prelate envisions that the mission stations will help empower people to eradicate the drug problem and the incidence of EJKs. He wants religious communities to help build BECs, educate the poor about their legal rights, assist families of EJK victims, and be catalysts of hope in communities.
On Oct. 1, 2018, Bishop Ambo officially installed the 13th mission station in his diocese, the Sacred Heart Mission Station in Kaunlaran Village. The Society of Jesus has assigned one Jesuit priest and two scholastics to shepherd the community. The energetic Bishop Ambo simply wants the mission stations to do the following:
- Build the COMMUNITY of active disciples;
- Be the PRESENCE of the Church;
- EMPOWER people to fight for life, and
- Be an INSPIRATION to the poorest of the poor
All Christians are being invited by the Lord to help save lives, heal wounds, and bring hope to the poor. Our Lord explicitly commands us, “Gather all those crumbs, nothing should be wasted” (John 6:12).
EJK is evil. Violence must be stopped. We pray for more courageous disciples to preach the Good News and resist all evil works. As Bishop Ambo said, “The death of our conscience is more dangerous than [the] senseless killings themselves.”
L’aumento del numero di uccisioni e violenze extra legali (EJK, Extra Judicial Killing) legate al problema della droga è oggi davvero allarmante. Ogni giorno, da quando il presidente Rodrigo Duterte ha annunciato il suo piano per risolvere (a modo suo) la crisi della droga nel nostro paese, sono in corso sommarie uccisioni di sospettati coinvolti nel traffico di droga. Siamo con il presidente nel risolvere la minaccia delle droghe illegali, ma uccidere persone – colpevoli o meno – non è e non sarà mai la giusta soluzione. La soluzione non sta nell’uccidere chi è sospettato di usare la droga ma arrestare coloro che la producono.
Secondo le statistiche della Polizia Nazionale a luglio del 2018, in tutto il paese, 4.500 persone sono state uccise dalla Polizia in legittime operazioni. In realtà è stato documentato che 23.518 siano le vittime uccise (illegittamente) da “assalitori non identificati” e 149.265 gli arresti arbitrari di coloro considerati tossicodipendenti.
Dopo aver avuto la più alta concentrazioni di questo tipo di uccisioni, la città di Kalookan è stata etichettata come la capitale filippina degli EJK , dove si stima, tuttavia, che la maggior parte delle vittime sono minorenni, innocenti e povera gente.
Questa triste realtà ha mosso mons. Virgilio “Ambo” David, il vescovo della città di Kalookan, a guidare la lotta contro l’EJK nella sua Diocesi, riconoscendo l’importanza di guarire e responsabilizzare i poveri, dal momento che la maggior parte delle vittime dell’EJK proviene dal segmento più povero della società.
Come parte del programma “Out of the box” (letteralmente “uscire dal proprio guscio” cioè dalla ristretta opinione corrente) mons. Ambo, ha invitato le comunità religiose a vivere con “i più poveri dei poveri” nella sua diocesi. Li ha invitati a stabilire stazioni missionarie il cui obiettivo principale è di attendere ai bisogni dei poveri, in particolare delle famiglie vittime dell’EJK. Il prelato si auspica che le stazioni missionarie possano aiutare le persone a sradicare il problema della droga e del numero delle uccisioni EJK. Vuole che le comunità religiose aiutino a costruire le BEC Comunità di Base, per educare i poveri nel riconoscere i loro diritti legali, assistere le famiglie delle vittime dell’EJK ed essere catalizzatori di speranza nelle comunità.
Il primo ottobre del 2018, il vescovo Ambo ha installato ufficialmente la tredicesima stazione missionaria nella sua diocesi, la Sacred Heart Mission Station nel villaggio di Kaunlaran. La Compagnia di Gesù ha affidato questa stazione a un pastore gesuita e a due scolastici come guide della comunità locale. Mons. Ambo vuole semplicemente che le stazioni di missione facciano quanto segue:
- Costruire una COMUNITÀ dei discepoli;
- Essere la PRESENZA della Chiesa;
- Incoraggiare le persone a combattere per la vita, e
- ad essere un’ispirazione per i poveri dei più poveri.
Tutti i cristiani sono stati invitati dal Signore a salvare vite, a guarire le ferite e a portare speranza ai poveri. Nostro Signore ci comanda esplicitamente: “Raccogli tutte quelle briciole, niente deve essere sprecato” (Giovanni 6:12).
EJK è il male. La violenza deve essere fermata. Preghiamo per i discepoli più coraggiosi affinchè possano predicare la Buona Novella e resistere a tutte le opere malvagie. Come dice mons. Ambo, “La morte della nostra coscienza è più pericolosa delle [stesse] uccisioni insensate“.
MANILA — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) denounced the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, branding it as “a shameless act of persecution by a bully government.”
Ressa was arrested by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents around 5 p.m. today on cyber libel charges over a 2012 article published four months before the Cybercrime Prevention Act was enacted.
In a statement signed by its National Directorate, the NUJP maintained that the Department of Justice “perverted the law by charging Maria for an offense allegedly committed before it actually became an offense under the law.”
“This government, led by a man who has proven averse to criticism and dissent, now proves it will go to ridiculous lengths to forcibly silence a critical media and stifle free expression and thought,” the NUJP said.
Arts and media alliance Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) said that the charges are politically motivated.
“Nobody believes for a single moment the concocted charges of tax evasion and foreign ownership. The truth is, the onion-skinned tyrant Duterte simply wants to shut down and punish both Maria and Rappler,” LODI said.
In a separate statement, Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said the arrest of Ressa “over questionable charges that have been excavated are essentially undisguised attacks on press freedom and speech.”
In its statement, Rappler said, “This is a dangerous precedent that puts anyone – not just the media – who publishes anything online perennially in danger of being charged with libel. It can be an effective tool of harassment and intimidation to silence critical reporting on the part of the media. No one is safe.”
Rappler vowed to continue doing its job. “We will continue to tell the truth and report what we see and hear. We are first and foremost journalists, we are truthtellers, and we will not be intimidated.”
The NUJP called on all colleagues to resist “this blatant assault on our rights and liberties.”
For its part, LODI called on all freedom-loving Filipinos to stand with the independent Philippine press in defense of the rights not only of media but of the people. “For in suppressing the press it is the people’s right to know that is trampled on,” LODI said.
Olalia pointed out that the attacks on the Philippine media form part of Duterte’s repression. “Let there be no doubt about it: whether you are a senator, nun, lawyer, activist, human rights defender, or peace advocate, you will be in the crosshairs of government’s whole coercive apparatus if you dissent or criticize so good that they will make you look so bad,” he said.
Letter from chief Seattle Si’ahl
The first environmental version was published in the November 11, 1972 issue of Environmental Action magazine. By this time it was no longer billed as a speech, but as a letter from Chief Seattle to President Pierce. The Native Americans were powerfully bound to the earth; the idea of property was foreign to them, and they actually considered the earth to own humankind. This was the Chief’s moving, lucid speech in 1855 and edited first in English in 1887:
The Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. The Great Chief also sends us words of friendship and good will. This is kind of him, since we know he has little need of our friendship in return. But we will consider your offer, for we know if we do not so the white man may come with guns and take our land. What Chief Seattle says you can count on as truly as our white brothers can count on the return of the seasons. My words are like the stars –they do not set.
How can you buy or sell the sky –the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. Yet we do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water. How can you buy them from us? We will decide in our time. Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing, and every humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap that runs through the trees carries the memories of the red-skinned man.
The dead among the white man forget their birthplace when they leave to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth because she is the redman’s mother. We are part of the earth and she is part of us. The scented flowers are our sisters: the horned beasts, the horse and the majestic eagle are our brothers. The fields, the warm body of the foal and man, all belong to the same family. Thus when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our lands, he is asking for a great deal. The Great Chief sends word that he will reserve a space for us to live comfortably with each other. He will be our father and we will be his children. Because of this, we will consider his offer to buy our lands. But this will not be easy, because these lands are a sacred to us. The sparkling water that runs in the rivers and streams is not only water; it is the blood of our ancestors. if we sell you these lands, you must remember that they are sacred, and teach your children that they are, and that every ghostly reflection in the clear waters of the lakes speaks of the lives and memories of the life of my people. The murmur of the stream is the voice of my father’s father.
The rivers are our sisters, and calm our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes and feed our children. If we sell you our lands, you must remember and teach your children that the rivers are our kin and your kin; you must henceforth treat the rivers as kindly as you would your brothers and sisters.
We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father’s graves and his children’s birthright is forgotten. He strips the earth from his children and cares not. He forgets his father’s tomb and the rights of his children. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother the heavens, as if they were things that could be bought, plundered and sold, as though they were lambs and glass beads. His insatiable hunger will devour the earth and leave behind a desert.
I do not understand. Our ways are different to yours. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the redman. But perhaps it is because the redman is a savage and does not understand. There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to listen to the leaves of spring or the rustle of insect wings. But perhaps because I am a savage and do not understand –the clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lovely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? I am a redman and I do not understand.
The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind itself cleansed by a mid-day rain, or scented by a pinõn pine.
The air is precious to the redman. For all things share the same breath –the beasts, the trees, and the man. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench. If we sell you our lands, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it sustains. And, if we sell you our lands, you must set them aside and keep them sacred as a place that even the white man may go to to taste the wind sweetened by the flowers in the grasslands.
If I decide to accept your offer, I will make one condition. The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers. I am a savage and I do not understand any other way. I have seen thousands of rotting buffaloes on the prairie left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive. What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast also happens to the man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of their grandparents. In order that they may respect the earth, teach them that the earth is full of the life of our ancestors. You must teach your children what we have taught ours: that the earth is our mother. Everything that affects the earth affects the sons of the earth. When men spit on the ground they spit on themselves.
We know this: the earth does not belong to man. Man belongs to the earth. Man has not woven the net of life: he is just a thread in it. Everything he does to this net he does to himself. What befalls the earth will befall the sons of the earth. We know this. All things are bound up in each other like the blood that binds the family.
Even the white man, whose God walks with him and speaks with him, cannot be excluded from a common destiny. We may even be brothers in the end. We will see. One thing we know that the white man may one day discover. Our God is the same God. You may think that you own him as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the Body of man, and his compassion is equal for the redman and the white. This earth is precious to him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator. The whites, too, shall pass – perhaps sooner than other tribes. Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste. But even in your last hours you will feel illuminated by the idea that God brought you to these lands and gave you a special purpose, and ownership over them and over the redman. When the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses all tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by the talking wires, where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. And what is it to say goodbye to the swift and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.
The death toll in the deadly explosion that hit a Roman Catholic church in Jolo, Sulu reached 27 while 77 others were reported injured, authorities said. At 1:10 p.m sunday, seven government troops and 20 civilians were reported killed while 16 government forces and 61 civilians were left injured due to the explosion.
Early Sunday, an explosion hit the Marian Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel when a blast occurred inside the church while a Mass was ongoing. Another blast hit the parking lot of the cathedral while government forces were responding to the earlier explosion.
The explosion comes after the Commission on Elections announced the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on Friday, following a plebiscite where all provinces under the ARMM voted for its approval. Sulu was among the provinces that voted to reject the BOL. The new autonomous region in the southern Philippines has been proposed with the hopes of ending nearly five decades of a separatist rebellion that has left more then 100,000 people dead.
No one has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Jolo has long been troubled by the presence of Abu Sayyaf, an armed group blacklisted as a “terrorist organisation” because of years of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings.
27 le vittime dell’esplosione che ha colpito una chiesa cattolica a Jolo, Sulu, mentre altri 77 sono i feriti. L’esplosione, alle 1:10 del pomeriggio, ha colpito la cattedrale mariana di Nostra Signora del Monte Carmelo mentre nella chiesa era in corso una messa. Un’altra esplosione è detonata nel parcheggio antistante la cattedrale mentre le forze governative stavano verificando la precedente esplosione causando altre vittime.
L’attentato arriva dopo che la Commissione per le elezioni ha annunciato la ratifica della Legge Organica di Bangsamoro (BOL) venerdì, in seguito a un plebiscito in cui tutte le province sotto l’ARMM hanno votato per la sua approvazione. Sulu, però, era tra le province che hanno rifiutato il BOL. La nuova regione autonoma nel sud delle Filippine è stata proposta con la speranza di porre fine a quasi cinquant’anni di ribellione separatista che ha causato la morte di oltre 100.000 persone.
Nessuno ha immediatamente rivendicato la responsabilità dell’attacco. Jolo è stato a lungo luogo della presenza di Abu Sayyaf, un gruppo armato inserito nella lista nera come “organizzazione terroristica” a causa di anni di bombardamenti, rapimenti e decapitazioni.
La piccola comunità cattolica di Jolo, ha 24mila persone su circa un milione di abitanti musulmani: Secondo mons Lampon, vescovo di Jolo: “La gente sopravvive nella paura: molti cattolici vengono uccisi, spesso vi sono rapimenti. Non abbiamo scelta: andiamo avanti in mezzo a queste difficoltà, ma la nostra fede non diminuisce”.
La vita sull’isola è militarizzata e il terrore è palpabile. Il Vescovo spiega: “Sono costretto ad avere una scorta armata che mi protegge giorno e notte. Anche la cattedrale e le scuole di Jolo sono sorvegliate in modo permanente: il governo ci offre quest’aiuto dopo gli omicidi che la Chiesa ha subito negli anni scorsi, per cercare di proteggere i civili disarmati”.
“La missione della Chiesa in questa situazione – nota Mons. Lampon – è di costruire la pace: siamo direttamente coinvolti nel dialogo interreligioso, attraverso la Bishop-Ulama Conference, che unisce leader cristiani e musulmani. Siamo in contatto con gruppi musulmani a livello locale, e cerchiamo di aiutare il processo di pace nella regione agendo da mediatori fra governo e ribelli e cercando di stabilire buone relazioni fra musulmani e cristiani”. Su una superficie di 2.687,8 chilometri quadrati, il territorio del vicariato apostolico di Jolo copre l’intera provincia di Sulu e di Tawi-Tawi con 57 isole e isolotti.
La provincia di Sulu è situata nella parte meridionale delle Filippine. Si trova approssimativamente a metà strada tra Basilan e Tawi-Tawi. È circondata dai mari di Sulu e Mindanao a ovest e nord e dal mare di Celebes a est. Oltre 157 isole e isolotti, alcuni dei quali ancora senza nome, compongono la provincia. Questi sono divisi in quattro gruppi: gruppo Jolo, gruppo Pangutaran, gruppo Tongkil-Banguingui (Samales) e gruppo Siasi-Tapul. Tawi-Tawi è un’isola provincia delle Filippine situata nella Regione Autonoma nel Mindanao musulmano (ARMM). La capitale di Tawi-Tawi è Panglima Sugala e la provincia è la più meridionale del paese. A nord-est si trova la provincia di Sulu e ad ovest c’è Sabah in Malesia. Tawi-Tawi copre anche alcune isole del Mare di Sulu a nord-ovest, l’isola di Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi e le Isole Turtle, a soli 20 chilometri da Sabah, Malesia.
JARO, Iloilo — Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano took a swipe at President Rodrigo Duterte for his scathing remarks on the clergy.
This while he defended the Catholic Church, saying people should not zero in on shortcomings of priests but focus their faith on God.
“Hindi ka pumupunta sa simabahan dahil sa pari, pumupunta ka do’n para sa Diyos. Instrumento lamang ang mga pari. Kasi kung tumitingin tayo sa mga pari, ibig sabihin ay napaka-babaw ng ating pananampalataya sa Diyos,” Alejano said.
“Alam niyo ‘yong mga naiinis (sa simbahan), troll ‘yon, sa tingin ko lang. Dapat kung tayo’y nananampalataya sa Diyos, alam natin na ang pari ay hindi perpekto,” he added.
Alejano, along with other senatorial opposition candidates under “Otso Diretso,” met with Jaro Archbishop Jose Romeo Lazo on Friday, following several town hall meetings in Capiz on Thursday.
Emerging from the meeting, Alejano was asked if an endorsement of the Church could negatively affect their candidacy in the wake of Duterte’s tirades on Catholic faith.
“So sa tingin ko naman, ang mga Pilipino ay naiintindihan ‘yan. At kung tayo ay nagpapadala sa mga pagmumura, paninira ay hindi tayo Kristyano. Ang Kristyano ay dapat tumatayo sa alam nilang tama,” Alejano answered.
Duterte has recently ramped up his criticisms against the Church, even challenging the clergy that if they refute revelations in the book “Altar of Secrets” he would be willing to nail himself on the cross during Holy Week.
He also urged bystanders to “feel free” to rob and kill moneyed bishops. For Duterte, bishops have no use in the society.
Alejano said that mid Duterte’s attacks on the Church, Lazo never asked them for assistance during their meeting. He then belittled Duterte challenge to the clergy, saying it cannot topple the Church, which has been in existence for over 2,000 years.
“Matibay naman ang simbahan. Sabi ni Bishop Lazo na hindi kailangang patulan ang Presidente sa kanyang mga sinasabi dahil sila ay naniniwala naman na dumaan ang simbahan dyan sa mga ganung klase atake before hanggang ngayon,” the lawmaker said.
By Anna Pozzi https://pimemissionnews.blogspot.com
When the local bishop, His Excellency Pedro Bantigue, called the PIME missionaries to Santa Cruz, the capital of the province of Laguna and a difficult reality also for socio-political reasons, he did so because he wanted to give strength and visibility to the Church in the most important city of his Diocese. Santa Cruz (75 miles from Manila) had around 60,000 inhabitants at the time, 40% of them Roman Catholics and 60% “aglipayani” (i.e. followers of an independent Catholic Church founded by Gregorio Aglipay). The majority did not attend any place of worship: educated people had moved away from religious practice, as the popular masses practiced a strongly superstitious form of Christianity. Although on paper it was a “Catholic” context, deep evangelization was needed. This is precisely what the first PIME Missionaries were dedicated to carry out: they organized catechism, a parish council, stimulated the laity to commit themselves, introduced a participatory liturgy, “cleared” the churches of an exaggerated number of statues and sacred images.
Aware that the Catholics had entrenched themselves in the city center around the monumental church of Spanish origin, leaving the suburbs to the “allepayani”, the missionaries decided to be engaged in social works for the poorest: distribution of food and medicine, a medical center with free healthcare, a popular bank with 500 members, support for families to send children to school. All initiatives that aroused warm, popular support but destabilized the “closest” among the faithful.
Fr. Peter Geremia has spent most of his life dedicated to the cause of social justice for the poor and the often forgotten tribal peoples.
In Santa Cruz, PIME introduced, among other things, grassroots communities. Fr. Peter Geremia, who arrived in the Philippines on August 21, 1972, writes: “In Santa Cruz I did not want to limit myself to the people of the center, the so-called ‘poblacion’, but also to reach the peripheral villages, the barrios. I asked twelve men in good standing to build an ‘apostolic group’ to plan and pray together, prepare the Sunday liturgy and then share it with the peripheral communities. We still did not call them that, but in fact they were the first ‘grassroots Christian communities’, which would then spread mainly to the South, on the island of Mindanao. Martial law unfortunately prevented the development of this methodology, because the most active individuals were immediately accused of subversion and were arrested.”
“Santa Cruz was for me a baptism of fire in an ecclesial and social context of radical confrontation between a tradition of façade and vested interests, on the one hand; and the need for change and authentic Christian life, on the other.” In 1977, when the parish of Santa Cruz was returned to the diocese, it can be said that it had been completely renovated.
Even during the tumultuous years of their presence in Tondo, in the heart of the Philippines capital, PIME left its mark. The area along the coast of Manila was an endless expanse of shacks with over 300,000 inhabitants; even today it remains a very degraded area. The ancient parish of Tondo was established at a time when the Philippines were just a Spanish colony; in 1970 two new parishes were started, one entrusted to the Augustinians and one to PIME. The latter erected in the poorest “block” of Tondo and named after San Pablo to commemorate Paul VI’s visit to Manila in November of that year. The first two members of PIME to be assigned to Tondo were Fr. Bruno Piccolo and Fr. Joseph Vancio who arrived in January of 1971.
They began to visit the people; they were quickly exposed to the misery of the shacks: a poverty dehumanizing for its filth, malnutrition, delinquency and endemic violence. The hovels were piled one on top of the other with no roads, no sewers, no running water, no parks or playgrounds. Moreover, the inhabitants or, rather, squatters, felt all the contempt of others upon themselves, with the result of living in resignation and fatalism: a truly missionary situation.
Even in Tondo, people were divided into various groups, each of which tried to “grab” the Church and its priests (i.e. they vied to draw the priests to side with them). The missionaries chose the poor; they were committed to helping them, trying to involve all the faithful in their commitment. Thus, the Zoto (Zone One Tondo Organization) was born. Its goals were to solicit awareness and action in helping the poor. It was an organization that extended to various parishes, including that of PIME.
Although he has been witness to some of the awful horrors and injustices that the Philippines have to offer, Fr. Peter has always managed to find the beauty here.
Through the “community organizers” we tried to direct the faithful towards solidarity and cooperation for common projects. In July 1973 the pastoral council of the parish was established with various committees: catechesis, liturgy, charity, but also those dedicated to social issues (water, school, health, electricity, etc.).
The Zoto project and the PIME parish begin to annoy certain people. With the martial law, introduced by the dictator Marcos in 1972, it had become easy to accuse foreign missionaries of instigating the people against the authorities; especially since the parish of San Pablo extended its influence to many who did not attend church and those outside its territorial boundaries.
In 1974, the hundred members of the parish council met with representatives of other groups of slums dwellers. This gathering gave birth to the Council of Christian communities, set up with a totally democratic structure (even the parish priest, Fr. Gigi Cocquio, was on equal footing with the rest). On November 27, 1974, the three areas of Tondo organized a protest march in which 5,000 people took part: Fr. Cocquio was arrested for several hours by the police along with Fr. Vancio. In October 1975, another clamorous episode happened: a strike was announced at the “La Tondena” Distillery where 800 people worked, of which only 300 were regularly employed, and the Council of the Christian community of Tondo intervened in support of the workers.
Shortly thereafter, the final straw would force PIME to leave Tondo, where Fr. Francesco Alessi, Fr. Peter Geremia and Fr. Albert Booms had joined Fr. Cocquio in the meantime. In December 1975, the World Bank approved a project to clean up the Tondo slums, following which the demolition of the shantytowns and the expulsion of the squatters from the neighborhood began. In January 1976, the Manila slum dwellers met in the Committee of the Poor against Demolition: Imelda Marcos, the president’s wife, received 20 of their representatives, accompanied by four bishops. Meanwhile, however, the situation of the PIME Missionaries precipitated because the authorities considered them the soul of the protest movement.
On January 24, 1976, the local superior of PIME, Fr. Francesco Alessi, and the parish priest of San Pablo, Fr. Gigi Cocquio, were arrested by the police and placed on an Air France flight to Rome. Fr. Geremia avoided arrest by hiding in a hospital; was not expelled, but he would no longer be able to operate in Manila and would therefore be sent to Mindanao. Fr. Albert Booms, an American citizen, was expelled a few months later, on November 20, 1976.