ASCENT’s Free Ben and Rita Now! Campaign gave a talk to a group composed of 12 clergy from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), under the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), last May 25, 2018 at the Ramento Project for Rights Defenders (RPRD) office in the IFI National Cathedral. CPE is part of the Center of Pastoral Care and Counselling.
Brenda Gonzalez, ASCENT Convenor and member of the Campaign team explained how the latter is currently engaged in resource generation to provide food and medicines to political detainees Benito Quilloy and Rita Espinoza.
She also discussed the other cases of human rights violations (HRVs) that development workers experienced. Among these are the extra-judicial killings of Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) and Willem Geertman who headed the Alay Bayan Incorporated (ABI), a non-government organization (NGO) for disaster response and health programs in Center Luzon. She said that ASCENT was established in response to the clamor of development NGOs to address HRVs committed by state security forces against development workers.
The IFI clergy vowed to assist ASCENT in administering to the spiritual needs not only of Ben and Rita but also to the other political detainees in the National Capital Region (NCR). Rt. Reverend Mervin Elimanco of the Dinagat Diocese also recommended addressing the needs of political detainees especially those from the peasant sector and who are imprisoned outside of NCR. #