As previously reported in our appeal UA-334-2006, Pastor Romeo Tagud of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI or Philippine Independent Church), had been harassed by armed men riding motorcycles.
Several other IFI pastors, at this time, have also experienced similar threats and harassments.
The new threat occurred on 3 August 2008.At around 6:30am, Pastor Romeo was walking towards the parish house after officiating at the regular Sunday Mass at the Pro-Cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist in Bago City, Negros Occidental.
It was then that a girl, about five or six years old, approached him.She
gave him an envelope, that she
said had an offering for the church, and left immediately.Pastor Romeo placed the envelope in his pocket as he proceeded to the parish house.He
later became aware that the envelope contained a hard object.When he
opened it, he
found a bullet from an M16 armalite rifle inside. The manner in which he
was threatened was similar to that of a Catholic priest, Rolando De Leon, who also received an envelope containing bullets in October 2005 in Norzagaray, Bulacan.For details please see: UA-219-2005Prior to the incident, Pastor Romeo was active in the preparation of the 106th Anniversary of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI).He
was also one of the panelists at a press conference, held in Bacolod City, on August 1 of this year, where he
presented the position of the IFI
on issues of poverty, corruption, extra judicial killings and other human rights violations.Their church also took a position against implications of mining in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental and Hinobaan, Negros Occidental.Pastor Romeo joined the delegation of Filipino-Americans from the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church based in the U.S.
They held a pastoral visit last June 30 to July 2 of this year in Barangay (village) Linantuyan, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.During their visit, Pastor Romeo exposed the human rights abuses that the military had allegedly perpetrated in the villages.Pastor Romeo also expressed the church's concern about deteriorating conditions of human rights in Negros and the pervasive climate of fear among the people, especially in areas where there is a heavy military presence.
...Please write to the authorities listed below, requesting them to adequately investigate the threat made to Pastor Romeo Tagud.
They should also consider affording him the prompt and appropriate protection that he
Please be informed that the AHRC
is also writing letters to the Special Representative of the Secretary
General of the U.N. for human rights defenders and the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
...Name of victim: Romeo Tagud, 44, Pastor of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI or Philippine Independent Church) in Bago City, Negros Occidental, married with three children; secretary general of the Promotion of Church Peoples' Response (PCPR)-Negros and council member of KARAPATAN-Negros
...I am writing to raise my serious concern about the renewed threat made to Pastor Romeo Tagud.I am aware that in October 2006 Pastor Romeo had previously been harassed by armed men riding motorcycles.He
was among several pastors of the IFI
who have experienced receiving threats on their lives.I have learned that on August 3 of this year, Pastor Romeo, after officiating at Mass in his church, was given an envelope containing a bullet from an armalite rifle.
A girl, of about five or six, had given it to him, supposedly, as an offering for the church.He
was not able to identify the girl as she
left immediately after giving it to him.I believe that the girl could have been used by the person who had the actual intention of threatening him.Before the incident, Pastor Romeo joined a church delegation of Filipino-Americans.
They came from the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
based in the U.S. and had a pastoral visit in Barangay (village) of Linantuyan, Guihulngan City on June 30 to July 2 of this year.I have learned that, on this occasion, Pastor Romeo had openly expressed some serious concerns of their church.
These concerns were the deteriorating condition of human rights in the villages and the all- pervasive fear that villagers were experiencing due to heavy deployment of the military in the area.
Pastor Romeo's observations were also shared by the church delegation which after their visit, had declared support for the campaign against the extrajudicial killings and the human rights violations.These issues in Negros have received attention not only locally but from outside the country and have resulted in the local military criticizing the church delegation.I am deeply concerned that the renewed death threat made to Pastor Romeo could have been related to his activities in campaigning for the protection of human rights and his criticism of the heavy- handed presence of the military.
I therefore urge you to have this case thoroughly investigated to determine whether or not the local military have any knowledge or involvement.Should it be established that they are responsible for the threats to Romeo's life, they should be held accountable according to the law.Also, I urge you to consider affording Pastor Romeo the adequate protection he requires without further delay.
In the past, hundreds of activists and religious leaders in the Philippines have been killed, most of them having first been subjected to threats before being murdered.