This is will be my 7th and last Christmas here in Baclaran. My resignation from CBCP takes effect on Dec 31, but I have already started saying goodbye during the National Gathering of BEC Directors and Coordinators on Nov 27-30 in Tagbilaran, during the CBCP Employees' Christmas Party on Dec 13, and during the formal turn-over to Msgr. Gabriel on Dec 18, two days before the start of the Christmas break of the CBCP offices.
I haven't said goodbye
yet to my Redemptorist confreres here in Baclaran. That will happen
when I come back from the U.S. in February. I will be leaving for Chicago on
the 2nd week of January to give a talk in DePaul University on “Extra-Judicial
Killings in the Philippines and the Church's Response” on January 25. I will also give a talk on EJK in Columbia
University before I fly back to Manila. Then I will send my clothes and books
to Cebu and ride my bicycle across Southern Luzon, Samar, Leyte, Northern
Mindanao up to Iligan and from there take
the boat to Cebu.
I was appointed as
CBCP-BEC Executive Secretary over six years ago I decided to come to Manila on
foot. Thus, I ran-walked for Life & Peace from Davao to Aparri covering over 2000
km in 56 days. My appeal was to put a stop to EJK in Davao & other cities,
resume the peace process, put an end to mining & illegal logging. As I
begin a new chapter of my life I will be biking 1,500 km for life and peace. My
appeal will still be the same: stop the killing (EJK) all over the country,
stop the war and resume the peace process, stop destroying the environment
(stop mining, illegal logging & coal-fired power plants). The biking
priest rides again! I biked for life & peace around Mindanao in
2006 and around the Philippines in 2008. I did the Climate Ride in 2014 – from
Manila to Iligan via Davao. This is
probably my last ride. I am already 63 yrs old.
I will be starting a different mode of existence as a hermit - living a
life of solitude, silence, prayer and writing till the end of my days. I have
planned this a long time ago. I already received the permission of my
of my friends and
confreres are asking if this is the right move at this time especially with
what is happening in our country. I should be more actively involved in
the resistance against an evil, dictatorial, brutal and corrupt Duterte regime. Am I fleeing
the world or escaping from reality? Have I given up the fight? I have
done my best. Through the years I have been part of a group
that monitored, exposed and opposed the activities of the Davao Death
Squad. I have biked and ran for life and peace. I have helped the Commission on
Human Rights and the Human Rights Watch
investigate the killings. I have
been featured in various local and international documentaries on the killings.
My summary report on DDS has been widely circulated and is now part of
the documentation submitted to the International Criminal Court. I helped set
up a network of clergy and religious that provide sanctuary to key witnesses of
the EJK including former members of DDS . I
have been a convenor of the Network
Against Killings in the Philippines. I have joined various prayer and
protest rallies. Now, I am witnessing a growing movement of resistance to this
authoritarian and brutal rule.
time has come for me
to shift to less active and more contemplative mode of existence as a hermit in
a mountain far from the city. This does not mean that I will cease being
prophetic. I will continue to speak out, using my laptop computer. I will continue to
write in my blog, my regular column, my articles and books. My voice will
echo from the wilderness to cyberspace. Above all, I will continue to
resist evil through prayer and fasting. As St. Paul writes: “For our struggle is not
with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the
world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.
(Eph 6:12).” In the struggle to exorcise evil in society, there is another
weapon that Jesus recommends to his disciples: “This can only come out by
prayer and fasting. (Mk 6:9)” I believe
that just as in the past God did not abandon his people but empowered them in
their struggle against darkness, God will again do so now and in the future.
Thus, day and night I will be praying. I will fast, eating daily – eating only
at night. This how I expect to live in the remaining time I have left on earth.
This is what I look forward to this
coming new year 2018.