Kidapawan martyrs honored

At the homily on April 11, the 23rd  Day of the Martyrs of  the Kidapawan Diocese,   Quevedo honored the Diocese of Kidapawan's 34 martyrs for the 20th century Martyrology of the Philippine church.

In his homily on April 11, the 23rd Day of the Martyrs of the Kidapawan Diocese, Quevedo recalled having visited the grave of some leaders who were killed and the sites where families were massacred.

"Who can forget the ambush-killing of our lay leader Sofronio Roxas in barangay Lampayan, Matalam (North Cotabato)? And the brutal murder of our gentle Fr. Tulio Favali?" he asked during his homily.

April 11 is also the 23rd anniversary of the killing of Favali.

Favali was gunned down by a band of paramilitary elements led by Norberto Manero, Jr.,  and his brother Edilberto, in Crossing La Esperanza, Tulunan, North Cotabato. His motorcycle was also burned. The group’s intended victim was actually Fr. Peter Geremia, who was supposed to have passed that area but was delayed along the way.

By the time the group was sentenced in 1987, the death penalty had been abolished so they were meted out the maximum penalty of life imprisonment. But good behavior among the majority shortened their prison terms. Manero escaped twice but returned to jail to serve his prison term until his release from the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa on January 25 this year.

Manero attended the mass but left the cathedral immediately after. He had promised on February 4 that he would attend the anniversary rites for Favali.

When he came to the Bishop’s House here on February 4, he embraced Fr. Geremia and the witnesses who testified against him, and kissed the grave of Favali.

The mass held was also attended by 17 other priests from the 13 parishes of the diocese.

 

"Today, these terrible events seem to be very distant," Quevedo added as he described the detention of leaders and members of the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC), the killings and disappearances as "simply a tragic part of the persecution of the Church in Kidapawan."

Father Geremia, coordinator of the Tribal Filipino Program of the Diocese of Kidapawan, described the event as "less tense" with the presence of Manero. "It was good that he was there, it was not as tense during his first visit at the diocese last February."

During the 'sign of peace' at the mass, Manero, who seated at the back beside the Diocese’s lawyer, Gregorio Andolana,  waved his hands to the parishioners, who numbered only about  a hundred.

Also honored were Father Rey Roda of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and couple George and Maricel Vigo.

Roda was killed outside his convent in Tabawan Island, Tawi-tawi province on January 15. The Vigos,  who briefly served the Diocese, were gunned down while on their way home to Apo Sandawa subdivision in Kidapawan City on June 19, 2006.

Roda served as Vicar General of the Diocese of Kidapawan under Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, Quevedo’s successor.

Quevedo said Roda had fearlessly proclaimed the divine values of truth, integrity, justice, peace and love. "He died for the people of Tabawan." (MindaNews)

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