STATEMENT | Church and civil society leaders decry terrorist designation of retired Catholic priest Msgr. Walter Cerbito

Pilgrims for Peace Press Statement
June 30, 2022

Church and Civil Society leaders decry terrorist designation of retired Catholic priest Msgr. Walter Cerbito: terrorist designations unfounded, secretive and contrary to much-needed efforts for peacebuilding in the Philippines

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 40:10)

With only a matter of days left in the Duterte administration, the unfounded tagging of Msgr. Walter Alipio de Asis Cerbito as a terrorist, as an alleged member of Christians for National Liberation also designated previously as a terrorist organization, is an affront to his Christian faith and his lifetime of mission and ministry. As Church and Civil Society leaders, we stand together and denounce the actions of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) and their release of a resolution that also designated Luis Jalandoni, a former priest, who has been representing the National Democratic Front of the Philippines(NDFP) in peace talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines(GRP).

Msgr. Cerbito is a respected man of the cloth who has been at the forefront of human rights advocacy and ministry with poor and marginalized communities. In Northern Samar, Msgr. Cerbito is renowned for upholding a prophetic stand against human rights abuses. His advocacy has angered powers-that-be, including the military and other government officials who had oppressed local communities and violated their democratic rights. Prior to Cerbito’s retirement, he was active in the ministries of the Church; however, alongside his other priestly duties, he vigorously pursued social justice and lived in solidarity with the struggling poor. While desig-nated as vicar-general of the Diocese of Catarman, he also served as the chairperson of the Promotion of Church People’s Response-Northern Samar as well as a regional council member of Promotion of Church Peo-ple’s Response-Eastern Visayas and KATUNGOD-Sinirangan Bisayas (KARAPATAN).

Meanwhile, Luis Jalandoni has faithfully served as chief peace negotiator for the NDFP for several decades. As a former priest, Jalandoni still emulates Christian values and a dignity of conduct from which many Filipinos could learn. Despite principled differences with the Duterte government or any GRP administration before this, Jalandoni has never been observed to behave in so-called “terroristic” ways. His soft-spoken speech and respectful interactions with others are an outward manifestation of an inner-discipline of upright and trans-formative conduct. While it is true that Jalandoni is an unabashed revolutionary, no indicators or true evidence has been shown that Luis Jalandoni has engaged in any act of terrorism.

These designations only prove our fears on the inherent dangers of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA2020). Rather than stopping terrorism, the law is more likely to be weaponized against legitimate public dissent and opposition, as has happened to Msgr. Cerbito. Even more, such unjust, unwarranted, and secretive terrorist designation by the Anti-Terrorism Council of Luis Jalandoni, and the entire NDFP for that matter, effectively undermines peacebuilding efforts, especially through peace negotiations. Peace Talks that address the roots of the armed conflict are still a better way; a negotiated political settlement between the NDFP and the GRP through Peace Talks is still the hope and clamor of peace advocates throughout the country.

We deplore the recent designation of Msgr. Cerbito as unfounded, merely on the basis of guilt by association. We can only extrapolate that manufactured testimonies of alleged rebel returnees under the custody of the AFP/PNP may have been used against Msgr. Cerbito. Circumstances surrounding such witnesses render their affidavits highly questionable, biased, and unreliable.

The possibilities loom for any Filipino Church leader engaged in human rights ministry to be designated as a terrorist under ATA2020. We stand with Msgr. Cerbito to fight this designation. Filipinos should continue to assert our democratic rights to work for social justice and struggle to overcome the oppressive and exploitative conditions present in many local contexts. It would be unconscionable to allow those who stand for justice to be demonized as terrorists. The militarists in government seek to steal our freedom, criminalize our right to dissent, and weaken our democracy. We say NO to red-tagging, terrorist designation and tyranny!

Uphold human rights! Remove terrorist designation of Msgr. Walter Cerbito! Junk the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020! Stop the terrorist designation of revolutionaries! Resume GRP-NDFP Peace Talks!

Signed by:


  1. Most Revd. Rhee M Timbang, Obispo Maximo IFI (Pilgrims for Peace Convenor)
  2. Most Revd. Deogracias Iñiguez, Bishop Emeritus of Kalookan, Roman Catholic Church
  3. Bp. Ciriaco Q. Francisco, Manila Episcopal Area, UMC
  4. Bp. Melzar Labuntog, General Secretary, UCCP
  5. Bp. Reuel N.O. Marigza, General Secretary, NCCP
  6. Rt. Revd. Dindo Ranojo, General Secretary, Ecumenical Bishops Forum
  7. Rt. Revd. Felixberto Calang, Sowing the Seeds of Peace
  8. Bp. Daniel Palicte, Exodus for Just Peace
  9. Rt. Revd. Mervin Elimanco, IFI, Bishop of Samar
  10. Bp. Jerby Salor, UCCP, East Visayas Jurisdictional Area
  11. Bp. Emelyn G. Dacuycuy, IFI, Diocese of Batac
  12. Bp. Ligaya Francisco, UCCP, NorthWest Mindanao Jurisdictional Area
  13. Bp. Solito Toquero, Bishop Emeritus, UMC
  14. Bp. Ebenezer C. Camino, Bishop Emeritus, UCCP
  15. Msgr. Meliton B. Oso, Director of Jaro Archdiocean Social Action Center, ARCHDIOCESE OF JARO, RC
  16. Very Revd. Gilbert G. Garcia, IFI Tarlac
  17. Rev. Juliet Solis-Aguilar, Conference Minister, United Metropolis, UCCP
  18. Fr. Rolly de Leon, Promotion of Church People’s Response
  19. Rev. Mary Grace Masegman, Promotion of Church People’s Response
  20. Dr. Muriel Orevillo-Montengro, Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform
  21. Religious Sisters of Mercy-Philippines
  22. Ecumenical Bishops Forum
  23. Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB
  24. Fr. Daniel Franklin Pilario, CM
  25. Sr. Eleanor Llanes, ICM
  26. Fr. Flavie L. Villanueva, SVD, JPIC Coordinator, SVD Central Province
  27. Fr. Manuel Gatchalian, SVD
  28. Jonel Dalimag, CICM
  29. Fr. Rico Ponce, O. Carm.
  30. Fr. Paul Medina, O. Carm.
  31. Fr. Aris D. Miranda, M.I., Director, Camillian Disaster Service International, Rome, ITALY
  32. Sr. Susan Esmile, SFIC
  33. Sr. Miriam R. Alejandrino, OSB, Congregation of Benedictine Sisters of the Eucharistic King
  34. Sr. Odilia Bulayungan,OSB
  35. Sr. Edita Eslopor, OSB
  36. Fr. Benjamin Alforque, MSC
  37. Fr. Eugene Canete, MJ (Missionaries of Jesus)
  38. Fr. Men Natividad
  39. Sr. Letty De Los Santos, RSM
  40. Sr. Alicia Andres, RGS, WJPIC Link, Phil. Province of the Good Shepherd
  41. Sr. Minela Alvarez, RGS
  42. Sr. Digna Dacanay, RSCJ
  43. Sr. Ma. Liza Ruedas, DC
  44. Sr. Ma. Arabella Balingao, RGS
  45. Sr. Ma. Juanita R. Daño, RGS
  46. Sr. Mary Aida Casambre, RGS
  47. Sr. Rebecca Pacete, MMS
  48. Sr. Rosa Ocampo, sfcc (Sisters for Christian Community)
  49. St. Sebastian Martyr Parish, Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija
  50. Dss. Norma P. Dollaga, KASIMBAYAN
  51. Ma. Liza A. Cortez, Asunscion Perez, Memorial Center, Inc.
  52. Jon Dave Angeles, Kalipunan ng Kristianong Kabataan
  53. Rev. Rey Gelloagan, President, UCCP Church Workers Organization
  54. Jezreel Vallente, Christian Youth Fellowship-UCCP
  55. Dr. Edith Burgos, Ecuvoice
  56. Rev. Callum Tabada, UP-Church of the Risen Lord
  57. Rev. Noel E. Bordador, The Episcopal Church
  58. Rev. Dr. Lizette Tapia-Raquel, Associate Professor, Union Theological Seminary, Philippines
  59. Dr. Marita Wasan, Diocese of Antipolo, Roman Catholic Church
  60. Bb. Kakay M. Pamaran, Faculty, Union Theological Seminary
  61. Rev. Homar Rubert R. Distajo, UCCP
  62. Rev. Irma Balaba, UCCP
  63. Rev. Marie Sol Villalon, UMC
  64. Pastor Maricar Delfun, Association of Women in Theology
  65. Jennifer Ferariza-Meneses, Association of Women in Theology
  66. Koko Alviar, Ramento Project for Rights Defenders
  67. Rev. Glofie G. Baluntong- NIM Justice and Peace-Manila Episcopal Area, UMC
  68. Dss. Rubylin Litao, Rise Up for Life and for Rights
  69. Rebecca Lawson, Coordinator, Pilgrims for Peace
  70. Rev. Ritchie Masegman, Spokesperson, Pilgrims for Peace


  1. Prof. Mike Pante, ACT for Peace
  2. Bibeth Orteza, Concerned Artists of the Philippines
  3. Dr. Judy Taguiwalo, Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacanang (CARMMA)
  4. Prof. Temario C. Rivera, Chair, Center for People Empowerment and in Governance (CenPEG)
  5. Krix San Gabriel, Concerned Artists of the Philippines
  6. Jina Umali, UP Center for International Studies
  7. Atty. Tony La Viña, Manila Observatory
  8. Atty. Ephraim Cortez, Secretary General, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
  9. Teddy Casiño, former Bayan Muna congressman
  10. Liza Maza, former Secretary/Lead Convenor, NAPC
  11. Satur C. Ocampo, President, Makabayan Coalition & Bayan Muna
  12. Jonallin Yang, Sec Gen, AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People
  13. Gertrudes R. Libang, Chairperson, GABRIELA Alliance of Filipino Women
  14. Robert Mendoza, President, Alliance of Health Workers
  15. Dr. Edelina P. De la Paz, President, Health Action for Human Rights,
  16. Albert Pascual, Secretary General, Health Alliance for Democracy
  17. Clark Anthony Trovela, President, Philippine Medical Student Association (PMSA)
  18. Amirah Lidasan, MCPA Secretary General
  19. Julieta Java, MCPA Coordinator
  20. Kakay Tolentino, BAI IP Women Network Coordinator
  21. Rei Paulin, Katribu Nat’l Coordinator
  22. Maureen Loste, SANDIWA
  23. Joey C. Papa, Bangon Kalikasan Movement
  24. Mae Paner, Founder, Juana Change Movement
  25. Gloria Arellano, KADAMAY National Chairperson
  26. Estrelieta Bagasbas, KADAMAY, National Vice Chairperson
  27. Eufemia Doringo, KADAMAY, Secretary General
  28. Vergel and Chit Santos
  29. Dr. Carol Araullo, Convenor, Kapayapaan
  30. Center to Trade Union and Human Rights

Most Revd. Rhee M. Timbang, Obispo Maximo, IFI
Convenor, Pilgrims for Peace 0915-379-3675 FB @PilgrimsForPeacePH

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