Bishop Alberto Ramento of Tarlac in the Philippines, former Prime Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church, or Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), was found stabbed to death at his rectory in Manila on Oct. 3.
A police report said that he may have been killed by robbers, but church leaders say that Bishop Ramento, an outspoken critic of the the Philippine government, could have been the victim of a political killing, the Manila Times reported.
“The true circumstances are still unknown though the initial report describes it as a robbery with homicide,” according to the IFI Web site. But the country’s Ecumenical Bishops Forum said, “It was an assault that cannot be dismissed as another case of robbery and homicide as the police reported.”
Bishop Godofredo J. David, supreme bishop of the Philippine Independent Church, said there were “glaring indications that Bishop Ramento’s murder was thoroughly planned and politically motivated.” He noted that as chairperson of the denomination’s supreme council of bishops, Ramento had strongly condemned human rights violations in the Philippines.
Those who knew Bishop Ramento and his advocacy work for peace and human rights joined in mourning his death, while vigils were planned in Tarlac and at the cathedral in Manila.
“Bishop Ramento was an energetic, passionate man of faith, never one to keep quiet on the injustices experienced by the people of the Philippines. He was an engaging, prophetic leader and he will be missed,” wrote Andrea Mann, global relations co-ordinator with the Anglican Church of Canada’s partnerships department, in a letter to Bishop David.
Rev. Winfred Vergara, missioner for Asian American Ministries in the Episcopal Church, was a priest in the IFI and remembered Bishop Ramento as “a prophetic voice in the Philippines” even after his retirement. “He remained a committed nationalist, devoted to the cause of the Philippine Independent Church,” he said.
Canon Margaret S. Larom, director of Anglican and Global Relations, said she and her colleagues at the Episcopal Church Center in New York were “shocked to receive this horrible news. How terrible that this bold church leader should lose his life as a victim of a crime. But if his death is attributable to the foes of justice, how much worse.”
With files from ENS.