Fr. Roberto Reyes is known for running to raise awareness on important issues that affect the lives of majority of Filipinos.
Last Friday, however, Reyes astonished the Cebuano community when he led relatives and friends of Francisco Juan "Paco" Larraņaga in calling for the reopening of the latter's kidnapping and serious illegal detention case.
His take on the case may not be popular, but Fr. Reyes said there is a huge need to correct and revise the justice system.
Reyes, who heads the Coalition Against Death Penalty, clarified they are not protecting or coddling criminals. They believe that the taking the life of a person is not a deterrent to crimes and there are a lot of innocent men languishing in jail, while the guilty roam freely.
In Larraņaga's case, however, Reyes is convinced the seven men imposed with the death penalty for abducting and illegally detaining sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in 1997 are innocent.
When he turns 50 on Feb. 24, Reyes will do a 100-kilometer bike-run from Manila to Sagada, and from Sagada to Baguio to raise awareness about ecology.
long have you been running to advance your causes? What were the other
issues that you got involved in?
As to the issues, halos lahat na. The first issue was the meeting of leaders in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative (Apec) in 1995. I run from Subic to Manila against Apec. The other issues are environmental concerns, justice, gender, urban poor, international debt, American intervention, among other things.
does the church view your running?
you been reprimanded or sanctioned for running to advance a particular
cause? How did you take it?
I take the reprimands and sanctions positively. They are my fathers and I listen to them. I also see it as a forum where I can also talk to them about a particular issue and explain to them my stand. I am happy that some bishops, after knowing that I am deeply involved in social issues, are already consulting me on some issues.
prompted you to run for Paco? How did you know about the case? Did someone
approach you to help them?
Not one from their families approached me. I've come across about the case inside the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa City. Lagi kasi akong pumupunta sa death row because of our coalition. I am the chairman of the Coalition against Death Penalty. It was in October last year that I started studying the case and I really believe that they were not given the opportunity to clear their names.
people see your running for those in death row, particularly in the case
of the Chiong 7 convicts, as protecting criminals. What's your comments on
this? What is the objective of the coalition?
Primarily, our advocacy is for the abolition of the death penalty. But we also help death convicts whom we think are innocent or are just fall guys. A lot of those languishing in jail are fall guys. The fall guy phenomenon should be stopped. The police is guilty of short-cutting, corrupting and perverting our judicial system by picking the wrong person to answer a crime.
But we do agree that those who have sinned should be punished, but not through death.
made you say that Paco is innocent?
have called on the church to campaign for Paco?
THE ABOVE TEXT IS THE FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL
DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR CLEARER APPRECIATION.
HOME INDEX NEXT ISSUE