By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
The Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) extends its sincere condolences to the family, relatives and friends of His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin and in general to the Catholic faithful and clergy on the cardinal’s death.
His firm stand against the human rights violations of the Marcos dictatorship expressed the people’s just aspirations. Such a stand for the people had tremendous impact due to his great prestige and influence as a Church leader. At the peak of the people’s resistance to the hated dictatorship, the call of Cardinal Sin played an outstanding role in toppling the dictatorship.
The last time Coni Ledesma and I visited him in 1998, he warmly received us and expressed keen interest in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). At that time, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) had just been signed. He offered his help in pushing for the GRP approval of the CARHRIHL. He asked about the situation of Prof. Jose Maria Sison and Julie de Lima, saying that he wanted to invite them to his home, should they be able to return to the Philippines. He recalled that he had baptized Jasm, the son of Joma and Julie, and asked Coni and me to convey his greetings to them.
In 1974, when I was in prison in Fort Bonifacio, Cardinal Sin, then newly designated Archbishop of Manila, came to visit me. His pastoral concern for the condition of the political prisoners was very touching. Learning of the inadequate diet in prison, he instructed Father (now Bishop) Gabriel Reyes to bring two sacks of mongo to our prison. This provided added sustenance to us and to our fellow political prisoners in Ipil detention center for the following months.
I learned from friends among the Church people that Cardinal Sin’s pastoral concern for the faithful and clergy was deeply appreciated. He had a way of showing his interest and concern and making people feel at ease in his presence.
It was at times of deep crisis in our country that Cardinal Sin’s powerful voice on behalf of the people rang out with tremendous impact. For his firm stand for the people and his moral leadership, we render honor to His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin. May his noble memory continue to give us inspiration and strength.