Arming clergymen not solution to violence, says 68-year-old priest
LUCENA CITY – For 68-year old Franciscan priest Pedro Montallana, arming priests is not the solution to stop the violence against their ranks.
“Ang kapangyarihan ng Diyos ang dala-dala namin. Mas makapangyarihan ‘yun (It is the power of God that we bear. It is more powerful),” Montallana, coordinator of the Indigenous People’s Apostolate of the Prelature of Infanta, said in a phone interview.
He said being killed in the service of the people and of the Catholic Church is martyrdom. “And martyrdom is a gift. It is the supreme sacrifice,” he said.
Montallana said he is trying to understand the priests who were reportedly arming themselves for protection in Laguna, following the cold-blooded killings of three clergymen and the frustrated murder of a fourth in a span of just six months.
“Well, I don’t know the context of their situation there,” he said.
He advised the members of the Catholic Church to “just continue telling the truth.”
“We should not be cowed by threats and intimidation,” Montallana said.
He added: “I am not afraid of intimidation.”
As chair of Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance who is at the forefront of the struggle to protect the vast forest ranges, Montallana has often been receiving death threats and intimidation from the hired armed goons of illegal logging syndicates.
As protector of the indigenous people in the Sierra Madre, Montallana has also often earned the ire of the military and New People’s Army rebels who often turned the natural habitat of tribesmen into a bloody theater of war. /je
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