Cebu Church condemns ‘gross disrespect’ of Holy Mass by LGU, PNP

Cebu Archdiocese, students score loud music, armed demolition of stalls, privatization of historic Carbon Public Market

The Archdiocese of Cebu condemned the city government and a development corporation on their rude disruption of a Holy Mass its priests were celebrating with Carbon Market vendors last Monday.

In a statement, the Cebu Archdiocesan Social Advocacies (CASA) office said some employees of the local government and Megawide Corporation intentionally began playing loud music to disrupt the solemnity of the activity.

“We denounce the gross disrespect of this religious activity and urge of the City Government to take action against the personnel involved,” Cebu Archdiocese Vicar for Social Advocacies Fr. Nazario Ace Vocales said.

CASA said Monday’s Mass was being celebrated in solidarity with Carbon Market vendors who face “unjust demolition” of their stalls as the city government rushes to “modernize” and “beautify” the area.

Videos posted on news outlets and social media platforms showed the police assisting demolition teams dismantling stalls at the market.

The University Student Council of the University of the Philippines in Cebu (UP-Cebu USC) also condemned the incident and the “illegal and excessive use of armed troops to demolish stalls” in the market.

The students added that the police refused to turn off the loud music despite repeated requests from the Mass attendees and the priests.

Cebu City Philippine National Police deputy director for operations Lt. Col. Janet Rafter they deployed 200 officers to “secure the area” during the demolition.

Small retail vendors affected by the demolitions are fighting the city government’s plan to transfer them to Bagsakan Market eight kilometres away from where they have been practicing their trade for more than a hundred years already.

They say the city government has no right to proceed with the demolition pending the resolution of their appeal before local courts.

Cebu’s historic market

The city’s oldest and largest public market, Carbon Market was named after the Cebu Railroad coal depot that first occupied the location.

It has since grown to become a major tourist attraction in the city because of its prime location and its famous inexpensive items such as souvenirs for Cebu’s many tourists.

Accessible to many forms of public transportation, Carbon Market also supplies almost all of the food items city residents need.

Fr. Vocales said selling at the market is a vocation to the vendors.

“Generations of these vendors have sustained us through the fresh produce and affordable goods that they provide,” he said.

In 2020, the city government entered into a 50-year agreement with Megawide for the market’s “redevelopment” to include “lifestyle establishments” and so-called mixed use developments.

A plan to transform the market into a transport hub to include a water taxi service to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport was also mentioned.

City market administration Wendell Censas however said Monday’s incident was a clearing activity as Mayor Michael Rama “wants the road cleared.”

Government’s heavy-handed tactics against the resisting vendors are earning condemnations from Cebu residents, however.

The celebration of the Holy Mass rudely disrupted by the police and city government personnel. (Photo by the UP-Cebu USC)
Demolition of market stall by the Cebu City LGU. (Photo by the UP-Cebu USC)
Affected small market vendors shedding tears as they watch their stalls being demolished and their Holy Mass rudely disrupted. (Photo by the UP-Cebu USC)
Priests asking the police to turn off the offending music is being ignored by the police while demolition continues in the background. (Photo by the UP-Cebu USC)

‘Forgetting manners and conduct’

Cebu Parish Pastoral Council president Elias Baquero went on Facebook to denounce the police for its participation in Monday’s incident.

“As president of a Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), I condemn the policemen who disrupted the Holy Mass in Carbon Market, July 18, 2022. Attention President Bongbong Marcos Jr. and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG),” Baquero said.

“While I highly respect the Philippine National Police (PNP), I lost my respect to these policemen in Cebu who forgot good manner and right conduct,” the lay leader fumed.

Fr. Vocales said the vendors are being driven away during a time of economic uncertainty in a privatization scheme to benefit only a few investors [and] at the expense of vendors and consumers.

“[W]e stand with the vendors in their call to modernize the Carbon Market with the participation of all stakeholders and without depriving them of their livelihood and the consumers with the affordable price of basic commodities,” Vocales added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gunmen attack broadcaster; media group demands probe

Another broadcaster was shot in Cebu City on Thursday, five days after Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa told the world about attacks against journalists in the Philippines.

Rico Osmeña of Cebu radio station dyLA was shot by two unidentified riding-in-tandem gunmen aboard a bus and was injured with another passenger at around 1 pm last December 16.

Both victims survived and are recuperating from their injuries.

Osmeña just finished his radio program when the attack happened.

Osmeña is also a correspondent for The Daily Tribune.

The Cebu chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the incident and called for a swift and impartial investigation.

“Osmeña’s shooting happened proximate to the upcoming election period – a period in our country perennially marred by violence and extrajudicial attempts to stifle media,” the group said.

NUJP Cebu noted that Visayas media had been victims of a series of attacks, recalling the assassination of DyRB radio commentator Rey Cortes last July, also in Cebu City.

“The reports of attacks on our colleagues in the Visayas are a result of the culture of impunity that prevails in our country. It is a culture that affirms the killings are a valid way to forward an agenda,” the group said.

The media security task force of the government also denounced the attack, adding it has already asked the regional police to find and apprehend the perpetrators.

Presidential Task Force on Media Security executive director Joel Sy Egco said it is too early to determine the motive behind the attack but said they presume it is work-related as a matter of policy.

Egco acknowledged that the election period may see more threats and violence against media workers.

In her speech in Oslo, Ressa called attention to the plight of journalist and broadcaster Frenchie Mae Quimpio who had been in jail for more than two years and the murder of Central Luzon-based journalist Jesus Santiago earlier this month.

The NUJP said at least 21 journalists have been killed under the Rodrigo Duterte government. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gunmen kill Cebu human rights worker in broad daylight

A Cebu City human rights worker who was organizing families of victims of the government’s so-called war on drugs was himself killed in a brazen daytime attack on board a jeepney Wednesday, August 8.

Human rights defender and Rise Up-Cebu volunteer Butch Rosales, 45, was shot in broad daylight was on his way to Mandaue, Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City.

He boarded a multicab jeepney and sat at the front passenger seat while the assailant sat at the back.

The gunman shot Rosales at the head several times and took off on a waiting getaway motorcycle driven by another man. The unidentified perpetrators did not bother to wear masks.

A veteran activist, Rosales worked as an urban poor and labor organizer before he became a volunteer of Rise Up for Life and for Rights.

Rise Up is a network of volunteers and rights defenders committed to work in the defense of life and protection of human rights against drug-related extrajudicial killings and violations under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights condemned Rosales’ killing, blaming the culture of impunity under the Duterte government for the widespread killing of suspected drug users as well as human rights defenders.

“With the rising number of killings conducted with impunity in Cebu, Rosales was killed in the same manner that suspected drug users have been killed in the conduct of the Duterte regime’s drug war, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

“This case reveals the brazenness of perpetrators – a result of the assurances given by the regime to these killers and the prevailing impunity that lingers after the killings,” Palabay noted.

Fellow activist Dyan Gumanao of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Cebu said Rosales was “cool and kind” who always asked how his colleagues and friends were doing.

“He was like an elder brother to me. He makes it a point to share with us his experiences in organizing urban poor communities,” Gumano said.

Rosales’ former colleague Yoyong Suarez said his long-time friend was always in the frontline defending urban poor communities against demolition and development aggression in Cebu.

“In the Philippines, individuals who assert their right to live will [themselves] be deprived of their right to life,” Suarez said.

“The Duterte regime’s witch-hunt against government critics and the continuing culture of impunity are blatant rights violation against the people. Justice for Butch Rosales and all victims of Duterte’s war against the poor!,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

LARAWAN: Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2017

Cebu City
August 22, 2017