November 17, 2005
Brig. Gen. Delfin Bangit
Presidential Security Group
Malacañang Park, Manila
Dear Gen. Bangit,
I write this letter to protest the action of your soldiers in barring the entry of peaceful men and women to attend the Holy Mass at the National Shrine of St. Michael & The Archangels in the afternoon of Tuesday, the 15th of November. I also strongly protest what the PSG and police did to the priests who came to concelebrate the Holy Mass. One priest was turned away at the Solano gate. Four were held at Arlegui gate and again at J.P. Laurel corner Arlegui.
When I went to fetch them, barriers were placed in front of my vehicle and we found ourselves surrounded by soldiers and policemen who made sure we did not stray one step outside the cordon they formed around us. We were five unarmed priests who could not by any stretch of imagination have posed any threat to anyone, let alone the palace. Yet we were treated in such a high-handed manner. I find it particularly disturbing and unacceptable that I, the parish priest of San Miguel Parish was prevented from going to my own church.
With due respect to you, General, if your only concern is to ensure peace and avoid any untoward incident, I believe that could be achieved by simply frisking the people at the gates and escorting them to church, is you find that necessary, or positioning your gates around the church, or even asking them, if they wish, to join the people inside the church. Pardon me, but I honestly believe that there is no need to deploy truckloads of soldiers and police to secure the church. All we want is to pray. We have neither the capability nor the inclination to assault the palace.
You should have seen the celebration in the church and the procession of the image of Inay Maria of the Magnificat after the Mass. It was a very meaningful celebration by ordinary, peace-loving people. I am sure that the men and women under your command, if they by any chance came close enough, would be able to tell you so.
Msgr. Ernesto P. Cruz
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Rev. Fr. Jose P. Dizon, Kairos Philippines