Marcos’ legacy lives on under Arroyo’s presidency, says biking priest

DAVAO CITY, July 12, 2008―Ferdinand Marcos the dictator is gone, but his legacy lives on under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said Redemptorist priest Amado Picardal.

Recalling the 23rd anniversary of the disappearance of Redemptorist Fr. Rudy Romano, then assigned in Cebu, Picardal said Romano was actively involved in struggle against the Marcos dictatorial regime.

“As we remember Fr. Romano, I am appalled that cases of forced disappearances and political killings are still happening under this supposedly democratic government. Many continue to be missing – among them Jonas Burgos. Marcos the dictator is gone – but his legacy lives on under the presidency of Arroyo. Some of those involved in the abduction and death of Fr. Romano are probably still around and occupying high positions in the military, hiding their dirty secrets and continuing their dirty war,” said Picardal in his blog

Under the presidency of Arroyo, hundreds of extra-judicial killings of media persons and human rights activists and several instances of allegedly forced disappearances have been reported, most of the cases are linked into politics and military, which the present administration has denied.

Romano courageously spoke out against the abuses of military under martial law. On July 11, 1985, he was abducted by military intelligence agents and since then has not been found. Romano is presumed to be dead, according to Picardal.

“Romano was one of the hundreds of disappearance-victims of the dictatorial rule. After Marcos was deposed by people power (EDSA I), we heard from sources within the military that he died during interrogation. Until now we still don’t know where they buried him,” said the biking priest.

Picardal have known Romano since 1972 when he was assigned in Iligan. He accompanied Romano in the parish mission in Balingoan during Picardal’s summer vacation in May 1972, a few months before the declaration of martial law. Picardal recalled how he was impressed by Romano’s missionary zeal as both moved from village to village conducting mission evangelization seminars among the people.

“Never again! This was our cry after the fall of the dictator Marcos. Now we have more of the same. When, O Lord, can we be truly freed from evil? When can we be freed from corruption and abuses of those in power?” Picardal asked.

“I hope that someday, the truth will come out and those responsible for the abduction and death of Fr. Romano and thousands of disappearances under the Marcos regime and the Arroyo administration will be brought to justice,” said Picardal.

Picardal (54) has been based in Davao as professor and academic dean of St. Alphonsus Seminary. He is also a theologian and BEC expert, poet, environmentalist, occasional hermit, healer, musician, scuba diver, tai-chi practitioner, mountaineer, cyclist and peace advocate. He biked for peace across the Philippines in 2000, 2006 and 2008.(Santosh Digal)

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