A Roman Catholic Bishop appealed to members of his diocese to wear white when they hear Mass on December 24 and 25 as well as on December 31 and January 1 to demand for an end to extrajudicial killings in Negros.
Towards the end of his homily at the funeral Mass for slain red-tagged community doctor Mary Rose Sancelan and husband Edwin in Guihulgan City, Tuesday, December 22, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza called on his Church’s faithful to collectively act for justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings in the island.
“As your Bishop, I encourage you all who will come for Mass to wear white on Christmas eve (December 24) and Christmas day (December 25), as well as on new year’s eve (December 31) and new year’s day (January 1) – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and 54th World Day of Peace, both are Holy Days of Obligation – to express our desire for and commitment to peace, sanctity of life, human dignity and human rights and our collective call to end the killings, the Covid pandemic and abuse of our common home,” Alminaza said.
Alminaza called for justice for the doctor and her husband who were shot dead at past five o’clock in the afternoon of December 15 near their home in Carmen Ville Subdivision, Barangay Poblacion, Guihulngan City.
Sancelan, Guihulgan City health officer and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) chief, was previously included in the hit list of the anti-communist vigilante group Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Komunista (Kagubak) in 2019.
Kagubak mistakenly named her as JB Regalado, Central Negros New People’s Army spokesperson.
Sancelan was among the five in the Kagubak hit list who have since been killed, including lawyer Anthony Trinidad, Heidi Malalay Flores, and Boy Litong and his son.
All victims have sought police assistance and protection against the vigilante group after the list has been made public, to no avail.
The Philippine National Police promised before a Senate inquiry last August 28, 2019 that it will conduct investigations on Kagubak.
“Our beloved martyr, Dr. Mary Rose, took eight bullets on our behalf,” Alminaza said, adding that Sancelan dedicated her life to end both the Covid pandemic and “the pandemic of injustice.”
“Committed to social justice, she tirelessly and prophetically spoke against human rights violations, militarization, and the political imbalance in our locality—consistently insisting on the need to address the roots of our social crisis to achieve just peace,” he said.
The prelate asked that for awareness-raising purposes and as display of solidarity that parishioners take photographs of themselves in white as they did last year.
He also announced that the ringing of church bells at eight o’clock every night throughout the Diocese shall continue to call to an end to the killings in Negros that human rights groups said are perpetrated by suspected state agents. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)