Thirty Years Later

This article appeared in Far East Magazine November 2014 issue and Columbans Ireland website

It is hard to believe that it is thirty years since the story of an Irish Missionary priest facing death in the Philippines hit the headlines in Ireland. It was a story that captured the headlines not only in Ireland but also, in many other countries around the world, especially Australia and the United States. Lots of things have happened in the intervening period for the Catholic Church, not all of them positive stories, but the story of the Negros Nine should not be forgotten and for all the right reasons.

I was a young reporter in RTE (Ireland’s National Radio and TV Station) when the story broke. Two Columban missionary priests, one secular priest, and the six lay leaders had been arrested and charged with the murder of a local Mayor on the island of Negros in the Philippines. I can vividly recall Niall O’Brien being interviewed on RTE Radio from his prison-cell in a place called Bacolod, telling how he and his two fellow priests, Australian, Brian Gore and secular priest Vicente Dangan, along with six lay leaders, were facing a possible death sentence on a trumped-up charge.

In essence this was a simple story of priests siding with the local sugar-workers on the island of Negros, helping them in their struggle to get better conditions. For their efforts, they were framed with the murder of the Mayor of Kabankalan, Pablito Sola. Even though the Mayor had been killed by members of a rebel group called the New Peoples Army, it suited the local ‘sugar barons’ to accuse them of the murder.

Negros Nine Abaca Weavers to Join 10-day Exhibit

Negros Nine Human Development Foundation has recently received an invitation from SM City Bacolod through their PR Manager, May V. Castro.  The invitation states that the “Negros Nine Abaca Weavers” has been selected as one of the participants to take part on special promotional campaign of Negros Occidental’s best products.

Father Brian Gore of Negros Nine being interviewed by May Castro, PR Manager of SM Bacolod

This SM Bacolod special project is dubbed as “My City, My SM, My Crafts”. And this is in partnership with The Department of Trade and Industry, CITEM, Bureau of Domestic Trade and the Philippine Star.

Open Letter to HRV Claims Board

Dear Board Members,

My name is Fr. Brian E. Gore one of the many Human Rights Claim Victims from Negros Occidental.

This letter of complaint is in connection with the debacle last September 3, 2014 in Bacolod City.

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I arrived in Bacolod City at 7am from Himamaylan City, one and a half hours away, to find hundreds of people already milling around looking for the venue to make their claim. I had come to make a claim on behalf of a fellow Columban, Fr. Niall O’Brien, who had died in 2004 and who was falsely accused and detained along with myself and 7 others. There was no one there to give any simple directions so confusion reigned.

Eventually, we were directed by a security guard to the place where he said the claims would be made. After waiting out the front of the building for half an hour we were then directed by the security guard to go to the side of the building. That is when people rushed to line up knowing that to be late was to be subject to going home very late or having to return the next day! I don’t blame the people for this mob style re-action, but I do blame the Claims Board for the lack of basic organization.

Processing started at around 8am. Only two people were there to give numbers to those milling outside in the open. By 11:30 only 131 people had got a number. Why were there not at least 4 people given the job of giving out numbers? Why could this not have started at 6am? You have from the very beginning grossly underestimated the number of claimants from Negros. Last July in Bacolod your Chair publically said that there were only about 500 claimants in the whole of Negros!

‘Negros 9’: Work for poor continues

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL—Collectively, they were called the “Negros Nine”—three missionary priests and six lay leaders who were wrongly accused of killing a municipal mayor and his companions in Negros Occidental province in the twilight of the Marcos dictatorship in the ’80s.

“Negros Nine”: Fr. Brian Gore (seated, from left), Fr. Vicente Dangan and Fr. Niall O’Brien with the six lay leaders were detained at the Negros Occidental provincial jail on trumped-up charges in 1983.

Their ordeal gained international attention as the priests from the Missionary Society of St. Columban, who included an Australian and an Irish, and the rest of the group were imprisoned in 1983 on multiple murder charges. They were released 14 months later.

‘Negros Nine’ survivors mark 30th year of freedom

July 5, 2014

The Negros Nine, composed of three priests and six lay leaders, were jailed in the waning years of the Marcos dictatorship for what they called trumped-up charges for the murder of a town mayor and became the subject of international attention.

Members of Negros Nine (standing, left to right) Jesus Arzaga, Mrs. Nomy Muhal representing her late husband Condrado Muhal, Mrs. Jean Perez wife of late Geronimo Perez, Lydio Mangao, Peter Cuales and (sitting) Fr. Brian Gore at New Government Center for the facilitation of the application for the reparation and reconciliation of the victims of human rights violations during Marcos regime on July 3, 2014.

You can make a difference

You can help the Negros Nine in so many ways

  1. On Anti-Human Trafficking – report any suspicious activities that may lead to human trafficking. Call or text 09228939613 or 09092293497. All calls are confidential.
  2. On Negros Nine Feeding Program, you can do the following:
    1. You may donate cash, food or goods
    2. Share your talents on cooking and inspiring children, you will be amazed, you will be inspired, too.
  3. On reforestation:
    1. Do tree planting activities with your group
    2. Impart your talents or skills relating to protecting and caring for the environment. Be the speaker or manpower of the day at Negros Nine.
    3. Donate seeds and seedlings
  4. On Negros Nine Weavers – you can help by promoting the products or you can be a resource speaker or trainer on topics such as livelihood, agriculture, etc.
  5. Help any of our project by Donating through Paypal