Letter From Prison
by Ramon M. Patriarca
Political Prisoner, Danao City Jail
The murder of Fr. Jovencio Rabusa last Tuesday reminded me of a far worse atrocity against a man of the cloth 24 years ago this week.
I’m referring to the enforced disappearance of beloved Redemptorist pastor Fr. RUDY ROMANO, CSsR, who was abducted by the Military Intelligence Group at Tisa, Labangon, Cebu City on July 11, 1985.
I was at the seminary then when the news of his abduction trickled down the grapevine and into the headlines. It was followed by more debilitating news that Levi Ybanez, organizer of League of Filipino Students, was similarly kidnapped that same day at Sanciangko Street.
At the time of his abduction, Fr. Rudy was the most prominent leader of the nationalist anti-Marcos protest movement in Cebu. He was vice-president for the Visayas of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) then headed by the “Grand Old Man” of the Philippine politics, nationalist Lorenzo “Ka Tanny” Tanada. He was the executive secretary of the human rights center Visayas Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace, chairperson of the Coalition Against People’s Persecution (CAPP), and convenor of the Cebu Oust Marcos Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism and Democracy. He was a pillar of the local opposition, along with such stalwarts as Inday Nita Cortes-Daluz, Clavel Asas-Martinez, Sonny Osmena, Tony Cuenco, Juling Ouano, and Valentin Legaspi.
But most of all, I remember Fr. Rudy as a true Christian-the embodiment of self-sacrifice over personal comfort and gain. He stirred a hornet’s nest when he championed the rights of farmers battling marijuana planters in the Cebu City-Balamban boundary. He attracted more threats when he took the cudgels for the oppressed unionists at Atlas Mining and Visayan Glass Factory.
It was therefore not surprising that it was the poorest of the poor who immediately rushed to the streets to demand freedom and justice for Fr. Rudy. They swelled the ranks of the almost daily protests in Cebu. They heightened the disgust of Cebuanos over Marcos tyranny and hastened its downfall.
For this, we should remember Fr. RUDY. In a time when the authoritarianism cast its long shadow upon us, it is important to learn from the sacrifices of our heroes and martyrs. Let their struggle continue to inspire us to be ever steadfast in liberating ourselves from the inhuman state of affairs that we are smacked in.