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PIA Press Release
2006/10/31

Siquijor religious groups mount protests

Larena, Siquijor (31 October) -- Various religious groups in Siquijor province are staging protests against Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Fernando T. Po allegedly due to the burning of the image of Sto. Nino in the Division Office earlier.

The protest, through display of streamers, was made in time with the Department of Education (DepEd) hosting of the 6th Student Technologists and Entrepreneurs of the Philippines (STEP) where DepEd 7 Regional Director Dr. Carolino Mordeno was expected to attend.

"Such act was an all-out insult to the Catholic faith and one who cannot observe respect to the religious beliefs of others does not deserve to continue working in a government whose Fundamental Law or the Constitution absolutely guarantees freedom of religion and abhors even the slightest abridgement of it", they cited.

But Po is firm and determined of not quitting his post despite resistance from opposite groups. In an interview, Po who said he was haunted with the intrigue commented that the issue is dead. He said it doesn't affect nor bother him at all.

"The case is closed and terminated. The Regional Office of the Department of Education, Region VII, Cebu City, has cleared me of any wrongful act and has ordered for my retention", Dr. Po said.

The Parish Pastoral Councils in the province, church affiliated organizations and movements, however, vehemently opposed to his retention. "It was so clear from the evidence presented that it was Dr. Po who caused the burning of the image of Sto Niņo," the group said.

According to a reliable source, Po ordered one Mc Iver Francis Briones, the Division's security guard to burn the image but refused to do so and offered that he would rather bring it home. But Po allegedly refused and burned it himself, the source said.

Po, on the other hand, alleged that the issue is rooted from 'someone' within their organization who wishes to just besmirch his name to advance their own vested interest. Dr. Po said he just wanted to come clear about the matter that the case is closed. "I think we would just not take this matter lying down without me saying something about it," says Po. "I believe that the threats by groups of staging protests will not prosper," he said. (PIA) [top]

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