On May 27, 2007, UCCP Pastor Berlin Guerrero was abducted at gun point by armed men in Biñan, Laguna.He was then on board a tricycle with his wife and children. He was released the next day. The government now claims Guerrero was not abducted. Rather he was arrested for crimes.
The following is his statement:
What does it take a government to have the nerve to abduct, torture, and terrorize my family on the basis of an old inciting to sedition case and a baseless murder charge?
Far more absurd is the accusation that I am the Secretary of the CPP Provincial committee in Cavite. This lie that they tried to extract from me by means of physical, mental and psychological torture and projecting me in public as a "hand-gun and grenade carrying rebel."
I am a Pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and never participated in any killings, illegal or unlawful activities, or any common crime.
My family and I have just taken a tricycle from the local church which I have served for two consecutive years (June 2006-2007) where we just celebrated UCCP's and the local church's 59th and 72nd anniversaries respectively (On May 27, at around 5:30 pm, a white van cut the tricycle's pathand military-looking men quickly alighted to grab me; despite my plea that they show me the warrant they said they had. I was man-handled and forcefully shoved inside the van, put a handcuff on my hands behind me, covered my head with a cloth and packing tape, was beaten, punched and kicked repeatedly.
They brought me to a place I didn't know. Here, still handcuffed, men would take turn interrogating and beating my head with their fists and blunt objects. (Like a 1,000 ml mineral bottle and other objects). All throughout, layers of plastic bags covered my head. My torturers would tighten the bag until I could no longer breathe. I passed out two times and urinated in my pants.
They made me shake my head for about an hour and beat me whenever I stopped. They said they would do these things to my family if I did not cooperate. I was forced to give names and addresses of my whole family, officers of church and conferences, name of my administrator at Union Theological Seminary where I am studying theology, leaders of progressive labour and peasant organizations in Southern Tagalog.
They opened my computer by forcing me to give the password, got my e-mail password. They erased all of my church, school and personal files and replace it with documents that belong to the so-called underground left.
After about twelve hours, they put me back on the van still handcuffed and blindfolded. They threatened to kill me, burn me or bury me. They continued to beat me and make new names for me. They got my sim card.
They called me Pastor-Impostor. And lectured me on the "evils" of communism and how the church, legal people's organizations are "used" to create trouble by criticizing the government.
When the van stopped, it took an hour before they led me down, made me sit down and lie down. After an hour, they removed my blindfold. Here I learned I was in Imus, Cavite specifically at Camp Pantaleon Garcia, Cavite Provincial Police Office (PPO).
Later on in the afternoon, that was the only time I saw the warrants of arrest and to what unit of the PNP I was turned over to by my abductors.
Now that I have the time to collect my thoughts and view my situation inside what police offices "call a subhuman" cell, let me make a preliminary analysis of my unfinished ordeal.
(1) The unit which abducted me is an organized AFP unit which operates covertly or below the law. It is composed of elements coming from different units of AFP's Intelligence Community. As a counter- insurgency unit, it uses ex-NPAs. They are lawless enforcers.
(2) Making use of court cases which involves suspected personalities of the left, no matter how weak, these cases may be served and used to make the arrest legitimate. In my case, I am implicated in a Murder Case in 1990. Case files show that I do not have a direct or indirect link to the crime.
(3) To bring me to the court by means of the arrest warrants is secondary. Their primary objective is to extract information from me by means of torture.
(4) It is also meant to terrorize my family, my relatives, friends, church members and practically everyone I know and who know me. It creates a thinking that this repeated attack on a person's right, which may end in incarceration or death, can
happen to anybody.
I am outraged by their branding me as a "Pastor-Impostor" because it is an affront to the sacred office I have sworn to serve God Almighty who knows every heart and mind.
Finally, I hold the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government responsible for the abduction and torture I have suffered and the subhuman captivity I am forced to accept. The GMA Administration should listen to the repeated cries of the people to stop violation of human rights and the political killings.
They may have put me in jail, but my spirit is free and firm because God is with us always.
(SGD.) PASTOR BERLIN V. GUERRERO
United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Inside the Camp Pantaleon Garcia
Cavite Provincial Police Office
May 30, 2007
Please pass on the statement to your friends.
Scary. In this country, when you fight for the oppressed, you are labeled a communist or a member of the underground New People's Army. When you are an oppressor, you get elected to Malacañang, or Congress or the Senate or you get appointed to a top government post. Either way, you get in and out of the corridors of power. The Martial Law of the 70's that our parents talk about with sadness is here.
Here is my poem (already published by Northern Dispatch Weekly) related to the experience of Pastor Guerrero:
(on theday the Queen signed
the anti-terror law)
With her sun-kissed hands
callused from working the fields
She cups her young daughter’s face
“Whisper your dreams
in the dead of a noisy night
when the crickets ululate
and the frogs croak in unison
The dark has grown wide ears.
The neighbor’s young son isn’t back yet
His mother hasn’t taken off her veil
She has caressed bead after bead
while I scribble notes on a pad
The list has grown longer
I’m spent counting them who vanished
because they took the trajectory of truth
which is the path of the doomed.
Run! Run! Run into the light
Seek the cover of the day
which Darkness shed
Escape the dusk, escape the night
of the 70’s which is back with that
paper they signed last night.
The shadows that were are once more
a strong presence in our midst.”
-7 March 2007