Sun.Star Pampanga

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.

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