On October 3, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) through the Ramento Project for Rights Defenders (RPRD), National Priest Organization Workers Assistance Program and the Youth of Iglesia Filipina Independiente held a forum entitled “Pork Barrel Scam and Its Implications to Human Rights and Workers Struggle” in commemoration of the 7th year of life and death of Obispo Maximo Alberto Ramento. In part, this also celebrates IFI’s tradition of solidarity with the peasants and workers in which Bp. Ramento’s life ministry was primarily devoted.
In this forum Marie Hilao Enriquez of Karapatan or the Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights stated that “corruption issues that we are facing only shows that the government is not for the good of the people but only for those people who take advantage of their position for profit… that drives the people to organize themselves to assert their rights and in the process they will be met with violence.” On the workers’ issue Elmer Labog of Kilusang Mayo Uno defines the pork barrel as a reward of the foreign and local capitalist and landlords to the politicians who crafted and executed laws that curtails the rights of the workers while favouring the interest of capitalists.”
Pia Malayo of Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (KAMP) shared the story of Gilbert Paborada an Indigenous Peoples Leader and also a member of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente who was gunned down by suspected military men on October 3, 2012 on the sixth Death Anniversary of Obispo Maximo Ramento. Before his death, Gilbert rejected the offer of housing, money and position in A. Brown Company, a palm oil plantation company that operates in Opol, Misamis Oriental.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines expressed its solidarity during the commemoration by reminding church people that Bp. Ramento is ought to be remembered for defending of the rights of farmers and workers, a special vocation that marks his episcopacy, and his primacy and leadership in the ecumenical movement. That “his engagement the bishop articulated the prophetic tradition of the IFI a missiological and theological perspective that was both pastoral and faithful to the calling to be a Filipino church.”