By Fr. Charles Gervais, S.F.M.
In the mid 1970s when I was serving in Southern Leyte, there was a local man called Danilo. He would plunder the fields and homes of the rich and then escape and hide in the forest. He was the most wanted man in the area by the military. Danilo was like Robin Hood for the local children. He had been cheated out of his land by a rich family who had bought the title to his land. Frustrated and angry, he rebelled against society.
Each afternoon before supper I would go jogging on the beach and then go for a swim. Many of the local children would wait to join me and from them I got the story of Danilo.
One Sunday morning my small friends came running to me shouting, "They have captured Danilo! They have captured Danilo!"
"Where is he?" I asked.
"In the market place," they answered.
I went with them and there he was, in an iron cage. He could neither sit nor stand. Everyone was staring at this 'criminal.' Danilo was crying. I made my way through the crowd in order to talk to him. I told him that I would do what I could to help, and that his wife and children could count on me for help.
They took Danilo to the much over-crowded prison in the capital about four hours away.
That week an old town policeman who was a friend of mine and a good man, came to visit me. I asked him what they would do with Danilo. He said that because of the over-crowded conditions at the provincial jail, they would likely shoot Danilo in the back and say that he tried to escape.
"You're just joking," I said.
"Not really," he answered. "It could happen to him."
One afternoon about three weeks later, I was on my way to the beach at the usual time when the children came running and shouting, "They shot Danilo! They shot Danilo! He tried to escape!"
I went immediately to the municipal hall and faced the 20 or more military men who had brought back his body. I was in my bathing suit and these men were armed with high-powered rifles.
I was so angry, I don't remember all that I said or how I said it, but I do remember the commander of the group telling me, "I have to do what I am told."
I told him that he would have to live with his conscience, if he had one, and that he must repent and make restitution to God. After I calmed down, I said to myself, "There has to be a resurrection!"
Everyone has the right to own property. (Article 17)
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection by the law. (Article 7)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights