Filipino delegates harassed by Spanish protesters | Global News

Filipino delegates harassed by Spanish protesters

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 03:15 AM August 20, 2011

Filipino delegates to the ongoing 26th World Youth Day gathering in Madrid were among those harassed by protesters in separate incidents, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Friday.

Through its news service in Manila, the CBCP quoted Fr. Ransom Rapirap, a Discalced Carmelite priest who serves as the cluster head handling eight subgroups in the official Philippine delegation, as saying that a Spaniard had shouted profanities at him and Jan Dell Posion, another Filipino.


Rapirap said he and Posion were asking directions from a pharmacist on Thursday morning in a neighborhood in Alcorcón, a city in southwestern metropolitan Madrid.


“Suddenly [the protester] wanted to cross the street but he was already shouting toward us. [From] the tone of his voice and the expression of his body, [he looked as if] he wanted to crush you,” the priest said.

Posion, a member of the media team covering the Philippine delegation, said there was irony in the experience. “I just cannot fathom that they brought Christianity to us. But now, why are there so many anti-Catholic [Spaniards]? What could have happened?” he said.

About 2,000 Filipino youths from all over the world comprise the Philippines’ official delegation to World Youth Day. More than half a million delegates and other pilgrims attended the Mass at the Plaza de Cibeles on Wednesday, marking the formal opening of the gathering.


The CBCP said JC Perez, a Jesuit novice who traveled to Madrid through the Archdiocese of Manila, had a more direct confrontation with the protesters.

Perez was chanting together with other delegates, as they were wont to do in public places in Madrid, particularly in train stations, when the protesters met them with derogatory chants, seemingly in an effort to provoke them, the CBCP said.


In another incident, two Filipino delegates from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates—Chris Asero, 28, and Rome Jarlego, 27—were walking in Puerta del Sol in Madrid on August 17 when they met a number of protesters harassing some Italian, German and French delegates who were also chanting in unison.

“Some were shouting expletives. The placards were really derogatory,” Asero recounted.

He and Jarlego said around 3,000 protesters were present at that time, answering the delegates’ chants with angry chants of their own.

Challenges their lives

According to Jarlego, the protesters were against government spending for World Youth Day. The protesters said countries like Somalia deserved more to be given aid, and even Spain itself, which is in the middle of an economic slowdown like the rest of Europe.

The CBCP said Asero explained to the protesters that the Spanish government did not fund the World Youth Day gathering, and that each delegate had to pay a registration fee of $500 for the weeklong event.

Asero also said the gathering would actually benefit Spain: “With the influx of tourists to this country, this is a big thing for their economy, to tourism.”

Jarlego, who was among the delegates at Parque del Retiro who waited for Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday, said the encounter with the protesters had a personal message to him: “Be firm in faith, especially in our present modern age.”

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The CBCP quoted Bishop William Murphy of Kerry, Ireland, as telling Filipino and other English-speaking delegates and pilgrims in a short talk on August 18: “They may be angry with us because we represent something that challenges something in their own lives.”

TAGS: Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, CBCP, Economy, Madrid, Police, Spain, Unrest, World Youth day

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