Joseph Saliba, Baptist pastor, was murdered in Quezon City.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

by Spero News

On  October 13, 9 am Joseph Saliba, 42, pastor of a Baptist church in the Philippines was shot and killed by a gunman in broad daylight while traveling in his car in Quezon City, in downtown Manila. According to information from the local church, the episode has caused deep dismay not only for the death of the Pastor but also because, after the murder, the killer, according to eyewitnesses, “left undisturbed on a motorcycle, as if nothing had happened.” Pastor Saliba, who served the Baptist church in Dagupan City, in the Pangasinan Province (Northern Philippines) died on the spot from the numerous gunshot wounds.

The young pastor was loved and respected in his community. He was known for his work in the field of justice, human rights, as well as for his public complaints against immoral and criminal practices such as gambling. Recently, in the province, a group of bishops, priests, and lay Christians of different denominations, led a civil and moral battle to combat illegal gambling, which is a plague in the Pangasinan area. The province, according to official data, is second in the national rankings for the monthly amount of illegal gambling, which reaches a figure of 240 million pesos (about 4 million Euros).

According to sources in the Philippines, these could be the reasons for the murder that “is added on to the long trail of extrajudicial executions met with impunity in the Philippines.” The Pastor also worked in a food business as director of human resources and police are also investigating on this issue, to clarify the reasons for the murder.
“Precisely on the issue of impunity in the society, the Filipino people expect much from the new government of Benigno Aquino,” said Catholic missionary Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra.

President Aquino had to address the problem from the beginning, due to the murders of two activists – Jose Fernando Baldomero Daguio – which occurred shortly after his election. According to civil society groups, those responsible for these acts are the “death squads” that operate in the country, composed of former military or paramilitary units responsible for the long trail of extrajudicial and summary executions during the government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

According to the 2010 annual report of the organization “Karapatan” (Alliance for the Improvement of People’s Rights), in the period from October 1 to 31, 2009, there were 77 extrajudicial killings, primarily of lawyers, judges, human rights activists, religious, and journalists (in addition to the 57 victims of the massacre of Maguindanao, which occurred after the publication of the report).

There were also 1,421 cases of threats and intimidation, and 94 illegal arrests. Overall, in eight years of the Arroyo government, there were 1,118 victims of summary executions, 1,026 cases of torture, 1,946 arbitrary arrests, more than 30,000 assaults, and 81,000 cases of intimidation. Among the recent victims is the Catholic priest Cecilio Lucero, who was killed in September 2009 in the Province of Northern Samar, south of the capital, Manila.

‘Slain pastor mistaken for his look-alike brother’

MANILA, Philippines – Police said Thursday that the Baptist church pastor slain in Quezon City, could have been mistaken by the shooter for his brother, who is a lawyer.

Superintendent Antonio Yarra, chief of the Quezon City police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit, said Pastor Joseph Saliba almost looks like his brother.

Yarra added that Saliba was also driving his brother’s car when he was ambushed by the lone gunman along Banlat Road, Barangay Tandang Sora on Wednesday morning.

He said the police investigators believe that the lawyer could have been the real target because of his profession. He added that it was highly unlikely for someone to order the killing of a Baptist church pastor.

Yarra, however, said that they are still not discounting other angles in the murder of the pastor.

Meanwhile, the Quezon City Police District said that they already finished the composite sketch of the gunman based on the description of witnesses.

Yarra said that the gunman could be 40 years old, stands 5’4″ to 5’6″, chubby and dark skinned.

He said that based on the accounts of some witnesses, the gunman was wearing a cap when he ambushed the pastor. – Report from Gus Abelgas, ABS-CBN News

Read more at ABS-CBN News….