Families of missing people light candles for their loved ones (photo: Desaparecidos)
Redemptorist priest Rudy Romano continues to stir the hearts and minds 26 years after going missing in Cebu province. Today, rights activists lit candles and offered flowers outside the Redemptorist church in Manila to remember the priest who disappeared during the dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos. “To this day, the military has not given a satisfactory explanation for what happened to Father Rudy,” said the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in a statement. Military agents are suspected of having abducted Father Romano on July 11, 1985. Father Romano was a popular anti-Marcos activist who served as vice-chairman of the New Patriotic Alliance in the Visayas region. He was also executive secretary of the Visayas Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace and head of the “Oust Marcos Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism and Democracy” in Cebu. Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar said the commitment of Father Romano to fight for the poor and the oppressed was unquestionable. “I could not help but be amazed at how deep his commitment was,” Brother Gaspar said. Rights groups also paid tribute to the missing priest. “Father Rudy gives a face to the faceless 1,791 ‘desaparecidos’ (people who have disappeared and are presumed killed by the military or police) documented since the Marcos dictatorship,” said human rights groups Task Force Detainees of the Philippines and Friends and Families of the Disappeared in a statement. “His disappearance reminds us that the path to achieving social transformation is not only a lonely one but one that treads along the line of fire,” they added. They also criticized what they called “the continuing phenomenon of making people disappear” in the Philippines. “The human rights situation in our country remains our concern,” they said.