Picardal and Romano
AMADO Picardal, the priest who claimed to have received threats from an alleged death squad, is a Redemptorist. I don’t really know if his allegations are true, but what this incident shows is that we are in interesting times again. These all could be Picardal’s imaginings but the last time a Redemptorist priest worried for his life, he went missing and is yet to be found after more than four decades.
I don’t know Picardal, but the other Redemptorist priest, Rudy Romano, was an acquaintance. I used to frequent his Visayas Secretariat for Social Action (Vissa) office at the St. Alphonsus Seminary compound near the Redemptorist Church because the members of his staff were my friends. I was able to see how he balanced his priestly work with running Vissa and dealing with the poor, deprived and oppressed.
Those were, to use the title of a movie, “years of living dangerously.” The dictator Ferdinand Marcos had lifted military rule in 1983 but his minions in the now defunct Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP) and the military made sure opposition to Marcos’s rule would be continuously scuttled.
Under the government of President Duterte, the term is “extra-judicial killings” or EJKs. Under Marcos, the word was “salvaging.” Both EJKs and salvagings amounted to the same thing. The other phrase for these is “summary execution.” Under Marcos, the targets were militants. The current dispensation is using the illegal drugs trade to rationalize the law enforcement shortcuts utilized.
The targets usually weren’t shot on sight. Many were picked up or seized and stuffed into waiting vehicles that brought them to so-called “safe houses.” Their bodies would later be found in neglected places, thrown there after they were killed. Those who felt they were targeted would thus craft precautionary measures— and worry a lot.
I was told Father Rudy did worry about being snatched by government forces. They said he would bring with him small cut paper with his name printed on it, hoping he could surreptitiously throw them away in case government forces would snatch him. He obviously wanted somebody to know his identity when that happens.
Father Picardal talked about staying in a hermitage, worried that a death squad would kill him when he shows up in public places. Again, that could merely be his imagination but after priests were killed in other areas of the country, one could not blame him for worrying. I hope his fears would not come true like they did in the case of Father Rudy.