Pinoy bishop accuses PNG cops of arson

Fr. Rolando Santos. (RS)

By Raymart T. Lolo

A Catholic Bishop in Papua New Guinea is fearlessly facing defamation charges filed by policemen in the Pacific island country that he accused of burning houses while drunk.

“I still have a case in court. But I am not worried,” Bishop Rolando Santos of Alotau-Sideia in southeast PNG said Thursday.

The case stemmed from the bishop’s statement that police from the Mobile Squad Task Force burned 19 houses at Daga compound before dawn of 1 September.

According to the prelate, the cops were drunk when they set the houses on fire. Santos added that the arson victims remain homeless.

It was the second time that police from the task force burned houses in Alotau, the prelate said. The first was in New Kitava in December last year.

Police have filed defamation charges against Santos but instead of getting discouraged, the 70-year-old Vincentian prelate considers his case a “blessing in disguise”.

“What happened to me has seemingly generated a national reaction against police abuse of authority,” he said. “It has also mobilized and emboldened many communities and action groups here in Alotau to fight for their rights within the law and without using violence.”

Since 2001, Santos has been serving the Church in Papua New Guinea, which is also home to a number of Filipino missionaries.

He was appointed the bishop of Alotau-Sideia in 2011.

p: wjg