Photos: Pastor Berlin Guerrero’s Thanksgiving

Bishop Eliezer Pascua, UCCP General Secretary:“Thanks be to God for Pastor Berlin’s release from detention”

September 13, 2008

Court of Appeals’ Favorable Decision Foreshadowed

On September 11, 2008, in a courtroom packed to capacity with bishops, ecumenical church leaders, clergy, and human rights defenders, the honorable Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr. delivered an immediate resolution releasing Pastor Berlin Guerrero to the custody of his lead counsel Senator Jovito Salonga and co-counsels Atty. Emilio Capulong and Atty Evelyn Dominguez . A Temporary Restraining Order barring the Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, Bacoor, Cavite from conducting further proceeding on the murder case levied against Pastor Berlin was also immediately granted.

The decision brought an eruption of applause, after which many, both inside the courtroom and keeping vigil outside of the Court of Appeals, cried with tears of happiness. “Today is a story that we must tell again and again. This is a moment of great inspiration to be remembered,” shared misty-eyed Father Rex Reyes, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. Inside the courtroom Pastor Berlin Guerrero tightly embraced his wife Mylene and his three teenage children. The parents and siblings of Pastor Berlin also huddled close to celebrate the moment.

Lead counsel Senator Salonga gave way to co-council Atty. Emilio Capulong to present the points of the case. Atty. Capulong raised defects on the information of the warrant—most disturbingly that Judge Myrna Lim Verano who originally issued the warrant in the early 1990s never questioned or saw the supposed witness to the murder identifying Pastor Berlin Guerrero as a suspect. Then, Atty. Capulong also presented evidence of the torture of Pastor Berlin.

Justice Villarama focused the bulk of his questions to the opposing counsel on the preliminary hearing conducted by Judge Myrna Lim Verano with the only supposed witness never being presented to the court. He probed if the only ‘evidence’ was merely hearsay. Finally, Justice Villarama asked if the opposing counsel had any objection to our petition for a TRO; there being none, the TRO was granted. Then, Justice Villarama asked Senator Salonga and Atty. Capulong if they would be willing to take Pastor Berlin Guerrero under their custody and Justice Villarama granted the same.

After processing the legal paperwork, Pastor Berlin Guerrero walked free from the Cavite Provincial Jail linked arm-in-arm with his eldest son. A family that has had to endure more than fifteen months of unjust detention and separation took their first breaths of reunion together. As Pastor Berlin awaits the next action of Justice Villarama’s Court and praying that it will be a Resolution of Quashal, Pastor Berlin savors these first precious moments with his family.

“We are extremely pleased with the result of this hearing,” says Bishop Eliezer Pascua, UCCP General Secretary, “we will remain prayerful and vigilant until we hold official papers confirming that the murder case has been quashed. Thanks be to God for Pastor Berlin’s release from detention.” The United Church of Christ in the Philippines has scheduled a Press Conference and Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service for Pastor Berlin to be held 10 am, Tuesday, September 16, 2008, at the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

Update by: Rebecca Lawson, Staff, United Church of Christ in the Philippines

Edith Burgos, mother of abducted activist Jonas Burgos, had reserved the day for herself, being a special day for the family, but admitted that she could not refuse an invitation to a thanksgiving service for Pastor Berlin.

Parents and brother of Pastor Guerrero

PRESS RELEASE May 26, 2008

One Year in Jail for Pastor Berlin Guerrero;
Family leads Pilgrimage Walk for Freedom and Justice

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the family of Mr. and
Mrs. Samuel and Flora Guerrero, parents of Pastor Berlin Guerrero, led a
Pilgrimage Walk for Freedom and Justice on May 26, 2008 to dramatize the
call for the immediate release of Pastor Berlin.

“When my husband Pastor Berlin was snatched from our family’s arms by
plain-clothed men on our way home from Church one-year ago, I had no idea
how our lives would be uprooted. At first I was unspeakably afraid that
Pastor Berlin would be killed and that I would never see him again. When he
was surfaced under the custody of the police, I was so happy to see my
husband alive. One year has passed and our fight for Pastor Berlin’s
freedom is not yet over. We are determined to fight for justice, for Pastor
Berlin and all victims of Human Rights Violations,” says Mylene
Guerrero—wife of Pastor Berlin.

“Pastor Berlin’s courage and principles are an inspiration. He has always
lived in service of the Filipino people and the Church. I am outraged that
torture-death squads are operating within our government’s intelligence
network. And I am indignant that they are so ‘unintelligent’ as to attack
Pastor Berlin and accuse him as a ‘pastor-impostor.’ My brother deserves
his freedom,” adds Rev. Ephraim Guerrero.

“We keep praying that the Supreme Court will release our son Pastor Berlin.
We have faith that God is always with us as we seek justice,” say Samuel
and Flora Guerrero—Pastor Berlin’s elderly parents.

>From within the Cavite Provincial Jail, Pastor Berlin has continued his
ministry. A new and thriving choir is even expanding their talent to
include educational theatre. Pastor Berlin conducts a weekly ecumenical
service and bible study with the support of the UCCP. Even more
importantly, Pastor Berlin had just finished a Clinical Pastoral
Education course in the weeks before his abduction; he has applied these
skills as counsellor for his co-detainees. Pastor Berlin chooses to take a
very frustrating and unjust detainment with the attitude that God can use
him in this time to serve the imprisoned, their families, and the Church.

“Pastor Berlin was even awarded the Community Empowerment Award from Union Theological Seminary. His work with the people imprisoned at Cavite
Provincial Jail is impressive,” shares Rev. Mary Nebelsick, UTS
Mission Co-worker Professor from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

“We are excited to see the growth in UCCP prison ministry at the Cavite
Provincial Jail. It is certainly disturbing that Pastor Berlin Guerrero is
unjustly detained. At least, God is using Pastor Berlin’s persecution for
ministry amongst the marginalized of Filipino society,” says Bishop Eliezer
M. Pascua, UCCP General Secretary.

The persecution of Pastor Berlin Guerrero has dramatically affected his
three children Mark Eugene (18yrs), Lora (16yrs), and Jairus (14yrs). Due
to security concerns, the family has been dislocated and two children were
forced to stop their schooling. Until now, they have not been able to
maintain their own home. The stress and trauma has impacted the family.

The torturers threatened to sexually assault Pastor Berlin’s wife Mylene and teenage daughter Lora in front of him; even with counselling and support, Lora remains traumatized. The youngest son Jairus also had emergency surgery when he experienced life-threatening intestinal adhesions; this complication of an abdominal surgery in infancy was also likely induced by the stress and
trauma of the last year.

“My father has taught us to be strong in the face of adversity. We are
doing our best to follow his example,” says Mark Eugene, the eldest.

“We just want our father home with us. We miss him very much,” echo Lora
and Jairus.

“Pastor Berlin’s abduction, torture, and detention under a trumped-up charge
have presented heavy challenges to our family, but we will not be
discouraged. We will continue to walk in the way of Jesus Christ and share
our lives with others. Our walk to the Supreme Court today is testament of
our faith and determination,” concludes Mylene

The Pilgrimage Walk begsn from the UCCP National Office, Shalom Center, 1667 Antonio Vasquez St., Malate and culminate at the Supreme Court. The family presented an appeal to the Honourable Magistrates to facilitate the quick resolution of the case.

Pastor Berlin was abducted one-year ago on May 27, 2007. He was tortured and
interrogated as an alleged member of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
He was then turned over to the PNP Camp Pantaleon, Imus Cavite where a
warrant for a trumped-up murder charge was presented. Until now, he remains
detained at Cavite Provincial Jail while the Supreme Court deliberates on a
Certiorari for his immediate release.

Contact Person:
Rev. Ephraim Guerrero, brother of Pastor Berlin 09189266839

KARAPATAN Southern Tagalog Secretary General
Pastor Berlin Guerrero and wife Mylene

by Alexander Martin Remollino

(For Ptr. Berlin Guerrero)

You have chosen to be like gold.
The rottenness of life behind bars
did not bring you rust.
In prison the custodians foist
a sickly yellow —
but you infused the imposed sickliness
with the brilliance
of the early morning sun’s rays.
You have survived the minepit
and walked a step closer to freedom.
Walk on and enlighten us
with the brilliance of fortitude that glistens
like purified gold.


Translated by Norma Dollaga

Pinili mong maging ginto.
Hinid ka kinalawang
Sa kabulukan ng buhay sa likod ng mga rehas
Sa bilanggaun ipinagpipilitan
ang nakaririmarim na kasuotang dilaw
ngunit pinunan mo ang karima-rimarim
ng ningning
sa nagliliwanag na sinag ng araw
Nakaligtas ka mula sa hukay
At nakalakad papalapit sa kalayaan
Humayo ka at papagtibayin kami
Sa liwanag ng iyong katatatgan
Na nagniningning tulad ng dinalisay na ginto.

Arkibong Bayan

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