Filipino priest vows to continue after being attacked

Nuestra Señora de la Salvacion

Nuestra Señora de la Salvacion

A Catholic priest in the Philippines who was shot at late at night as he slept, says he will not abandon his parish and wants to continue serving the poor. “I will never leave my parish,” Father Jose Francisco 'Jeofran' Talaban, 43, parish priest of Nuestra Señora de la Salvacion in the Aurora province village of Bianoan, Casiguran town, told Church-run Radio Veritas.

The shots missed the sleeping priest by inches on Saturday.  Police later recovered empty shells and grenade shrapnel. Also found were anti-communist pamphlets accusing Father Talaban of belonging to the New People’s Army.

“The Church will not be cowed and will not stop helping the poor and oppressed,” Father Talaban said. He added that  he suspects the attack was related to his campaign against government projects in the Aurora Special Economic Zone.

Father Talaban is known as a vocal advocate of the rights of farmers’ and indigenous people who will be displaced by the project.

Describing the gunmen as “cowards and without conscience”. Infanta Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona,  said the threats will not deter the Church. “We are on the side of the poor, so if they think we will back out, they are wrong,” he said. Bishop Tirona noted that the threats against Father Talaban only started when the special economic zone project was proposed.

However, Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara, a proponent of the project in Congress, said it was premature to make any links. “Definitely, the attack should be condemned,” he said. “But it may or may not have anything to do with the project.” “Elements” may be out to destabilize the local situation, he added.

Bishop Tirona is meeting  local clergy later this week to discuss improved security measures.

Source: UCAN

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