A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
PHILIPPINES: The story of Fr. Terry, a Pastor in Pangasinan – an update on the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines
The following story about Fr. Terry, a Pastor in Pangasinan, shows how extrajudicial killings and other forms of violence and harm are planned and, more often than not, carried out in the Philippines against individuals who try to engage in community activities for the benefit of the people.
It is this type of planning and surveillance that has been done in preparation for the extrajudicial killings of over 701 persons (the numbers as given by human rights organisations in the Philippines) that have taken place over the last few years. The AHRC's on-line petition is to stop this sort of surveillance, manipulation and the carrying out of plans either to kill or harm such community workers. We urge everyone who reads this story to circulate it for the benefit of others and also to participate on the on-line campaign to end the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
The story of Fr. Terry -- PHILIPPINES: Alleged surveillance and intimidation of a pastor in Pangasinan
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the alleged surveillance and intimidation of a pastor, Rev. Fr. Eleuterio “Terry” J. Revollido, Chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance) in Pangasinan province, the Philippines. His organisation has been working for marginalised sectors of society in the area and in particular has worked for several years against the construction of the biggest dam in Asia, the San Roque Dam Multi-Purpose Project in San Manuel, Pangasinan. Fr. Terry is concerned for his security after the killings of his organisation's vice chairman, Mariano Sepnio and General Secreary, Mr. Jose Doton by unknown armed men, which separately took place on 9 March 2006 and 16 May 2006. He believes that there is a great danger that he may be abducted or assassinated due to his activities as the chairman of BAYAN. The AHRC shares this belief and is highly concerned for the welfare of Fr. Terry.
The facts described below are based on the statement of Fr. Terry submitted to the AHRC.
Rev. Fr. Eleuterio “Terry” J. Revollido is chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance) in Pangasinan province, rector of Aglipay Central Theological Seminary (ACTS) of the Philippine Independent Church (PIC), Urdaneta City, Pangasinan and chairperson of the Council of Priests, PIC. BAYAN-Pangasinan is an umbrella organisation working for the rights of peasants, workers, women, youth-students, drivers, urban poor, church people and professionals. One of the sensitive and crucial issues that BAYAN-Pangasinan has been campaigning for years on is its campaign against the construction of a huge dam named San Roque Dam Multi-Purpose Project in San Manuel, Pangasinan. In 2000, a policeman, who happened to be Fr. Terry's family friend and was assigned close to the Director of the Intelligence division of the Police provincial headquarter, informed his wife that Fr. Terry was under surveillance because of his activities against the dam. At that time, Fr. Terry was the chairman of the Promotion of Church People’s Response, PCPR-Pangasinan. This policeman was killed by unknown persons in 2001.
Towards the end of 2005, Fr. Terry's seminary janitor informed him that he was visited thrice by suspicious looking and well-built persons asking about the activities and personalities of those coming and going to the seminary. He was not in his house on the third time they returned, but according to his son they forced themselves inside the house potentially with the plan of abducting his father because he refused to follow what they wanted. According to the son, they were wearing "boots and riding in a white van". Later Fr. Terry's seminary assisted the family to construct a steel fence in their house for security reasons.
Beginning in 2006 one of Fr. Terry's colleagues was allegedly approached by an intelligence person presenting himself as the "case-handler" of Pangasinan and allegedly working with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA). He even boasted of his direct line to Malacanang (presidential house) and having millions in their purse. The said colleague was visited twice by this person who promised a "cover" and money if information would be given about what was happening in the seminary and the activities of Fr. Terry. The said person refused the offer and is now living in fear. Even though the colleague made a written report regarding this experience, it has not been made to public due to security concerns.
Meanwhile, Fr. Terry's vice chairman Mr. Mariano Sepnio was killed on 9 March 2006 by two armed motorcycle riding men. Fr. Terry and his colleagues were also informed by their neighbours and confirmed by some seminarians that there were suspicious looking men on motorcycles who were buying cigarettes in the nearby store but not removing their helmets and seemed to be scanning the seminary. There were also unusual movements of men for successive nights who spent some hours just standing close to the seminary.
Moreover, Fr. Terry's General Secretary, Mr. Jose Doton was ambushed and killed on 16 May 2006 following Mr. Sepnio's killing. Fr. Terry also reported that a suspicious looking man appeared at his seminary and asked for help. Because it was vacation time, only a few people were in residence and the man went up to the second floor of the main building and knocked on every door of the staff houses which was unusual for a man asking for money for the alleged "burial of his brother". On the afternoon of the same day, while waiting for a jeep in front of the seminary, one of the male lecturers (the one who informed about the morning incident) was surprised to find another suspicious looking man, who slowed down his L300 Mitsubishi and keenly viewed him from a distance. Only after passing in front of him did the man accelerate off in his vehicle. The lecturer said that the vehicle had a logo of the Philippine National Police (PNP) at the back.
Fr. Terry made written incident reports on all the events and submitted it to the PCPR-national, HR desks and to the bishops of the Church. The Supreme Council of Bishops then released a Pastoral Letter condemning the political killings and the surveillance and harassments being experienced by five PIC clergy, including Fr. Terry during their 8 May 2006 meeting. Aside from some security measures being devised in the seminary, personal security measures are also being followed. However, Fr. Terry is still afraid of his security and worries about his possible abduction due to his activities surrounding the rights of people.
The AHRC issues this appeal as an early warning for the possible abduction or assassination of Fr. Terry. We urge you to write to Philippine authorities regarding this matter.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
Posted on 2006-07-27