10/11/2006, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Another Aglipayan Church pastor killed

by Santosh Digal

This latest murder on 8 October at Surigao del Sur recalls the killing of a leader of the same Protestant denomination, Alberto Ramento, a few days earlier. The church leaders told AsiaNews about the excessive haste of official investigations that cover up political crimes with the excuse of theft.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Another pastor of the Philippine Independent Church, Dionisio Gingging, was killed on 8 October in his home in Surigao del Sur: the 53-year-old pastor was shot and stabbed to death by three unidentified men. His death comes less than a week after a leader of the same church was killed in Tarlac City.

Members of the Protestant Church, also known as Aglipayan Church, condemned the new murder and called on the police to undertake "serious and in-depth" investigations. The initial version supplied by the police was of "crime for personal reasons".

Chief Superintendent, Antonio Dator Nañas, of Caraga said police were looking into local drug trafficking, which the pastor was fiercely critical of. The investigator said "the way they killed him, it appears the killers hated him so much". Protestant leaders have voiced "skepticism" and announced a private inquiry.

The latest killing recalls that of the chairman of the Supreme Council of Leaders of the Philippine Independent Church, Alberto Ramento, who was killed in his home in in Tarlac City on 3 October. According to police, Ramento was killed by four robbers who broke into in his home, but his colleagues and friends have pointed fingers at "other forces" who wanted to punish the religious leader for his criticism of the Arroyo administration and for his human rights work.

Godofredo David, supreme leader of the Protestant denomination, told AsiaNews that members of his church "conducted their own investigation into the killing of Ramento and found nothing to indicate that this was a case of murder for simple robbery."

He said that "with the help of legal and medical experts, we have seen that Ramento was killed while he was sleeping by someone who intended precisely to silence him. There were no defensive wounds or signs of struggle to make us think our brother surprised thieves at work. His killing was quick."

The pastor denounced the "haphazard and hurried manner in which the police conducted their investigation to cover up the facts of this political killing.  Our pastors were not allowed to witness their investigation and worse, the police removed the protection cordon from the crime scene too soon, allowing practically anyone to enter and contaminate the evidence." 

The Aglipayan community "will hold prayer vigils, symbolic funeral marches and protest rallies nationwide to show indignation for the killing of Ramento." 

A protest march is scheduled for tomorrow. Protestant and Catholic leaders are expected to join the rally.

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