Bishop says no to pardon for massacre culprits
LUCENA CITY, Philippines–—Granting a pardon to those behind the carnage in Maguindanao even for the sake of peace is “wrong and reprehensible,” Lucena Bishop Emilio Marquez said here on Sunday.
In a strongly worded message, Marquez told reporters here that any talk of amnesty for the culprits behind the deaths of 44 elite commandos from the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), even if meant to advance the pursuit of peace in Mindanao, was “very wrong.”
“Giving a pardon to whoever is behind the bloody killing is reprehensible. All persons responsible must suffer. They should be sent to jail,” Marquez said.
Filipinos are demanding no more than the truth and genuine justice, he said.
He also assailed the brutality inflicted on the 44 commandos.
“Their bodies were desecrated. Some of them were robbed of their personal belongings. In combat, the dead should be left alone,” Marquez said.
In his homily during Mass on Sunday at St. Ferdinand Cathedral here, the bishop called on the public to restore their faith and respect in policemen, saying the deaths of the troopers had once more shown the inherent dangers of the peacekeeping task of men in uniform.
“We should all respect the police. Their other foot is always in the grave. They are ready to offer their lives in the performance of their duty,” Marquez told parishioners.
The prelate said the usual public image of policemen as corrupt and rotten should not be the basis for their true worth as public servants.
“The SAF 44 all died for the sake of peace for the Filipino people,” Marquez said.
Marquez offered the Mass specifically for the SAF 44 and their families. Uniformed personnel led by Senior Supt. Ronaldo Genaro Ylagan, Quezon police chief, occupied several pews. Some of the policemen, several of whom came with their families, were in tears as the bishop delivered his homily.
“The bishop’s message is truly heartwarming. There are only a few rotten cops in the ranks. Most of them are dedicated lawmen,” a teary-eyed wife of a local policeman said after the Mass.
The bishop also asked the government peace negotiators to demand the return of the firearms and personal belongings of the slain commandos that were taken following the Mamasapano battle.
Marquez told reporters he was still supportive of the peace process between the government and the MILF.
Every Filipino should support the government peace initiative in Mindanao “but it should be peace with justice,” he said.–With a report from Romy O. Ponte, Inquirer Southern Luzon
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