The Most Rev. Ignacio C. Soliba, Prime Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, issued the following statement October 5 regarding the murder of Bishop Alberto Ramento of Tarlac, Ninth Obispo Maximo of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church):
"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it." (John 1:5 NRSV)
In the wee hours in the morning of October 3, while darkness still prevailed, life was snuffed out of the Most Reverend Alberto B. Ramento, Ninth Obispo Maximo of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente [Philippine Independent Church]. It was a brutal death from several stab wounds inflicted on his frail body by persons who were supposedly out to rob him. Indeed his death is another "precious offering" of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente to the continuing struggle for the reign of justice, love and genuine peace in this land.
Another life has been taken ... but nay, not just another. The Most Reverend Alberto B. Ramento was a man of God. A man who vowed to serve God, country and people, a person who listened to the cries of his people, advocated and unselfishly lent support for their struggles, a person who challenged the godless authorities and denounced the unabated killings of militants and other critics of the government, a person who walked the streets with those who spoke against constitutional change and called on the President to step down. Yes, the Most Reverend Alberto B. Ramento walked this land, and where he trod, he lived out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Episcopal Church in the Philippines grieves with the Iglesia Independiente over the loss of one who embodied true servanthood even in the face of threats to his life. But in the midst of this terrible loss, we celebrate his life and works even as we entrust his soul to God's bosom. He was a light, shining out in the darkness, and that darkness will never overcome the light.
We call for an impartial investigation of the circumstances that led to the Bishop's death. Truly, those who fear the wrath of justice seek the elimination of those who struggle to promote its reign. If the foes of justice have indeed perpetrated this manner of assassination, then they have acted in vain. This sacrifice shall only serve to make our people see the need to thunder the mighty with prayers for the true restoration of justice, human rights and peace, and to participate in the continuing struggle to liberate our country and people from the growing trend towards autocracy and militarism.
Yes, "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it." We sustain our hope that this is so. We assert, and indeed we must assert confidently, that this is still God's world, and God cannot be mocked. Not by ordinary mortals, not even by those who claim power but whose cause is unjust, not by anyone who is defending what is fundamentally indefensible because it is evil.
The Most Reverend Alberto B. Ramento has left us a legacy which we intend to pursue: to work assiduously so that all God's children, our brothers and sisters, continue to enjoy the basic human rights, the right to a fulfilled life the freedom to be truly human within a humanity measured by nothing less than the humanity of Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Light who shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
+ The Most Reverend Ignacio C. Soliba
Episcopal Church in the Philippines
Signed in Quezon City
October 5, 2006