A Statement on the Death of Emmanuel Jose “Em-J” Magno Pavia

By Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin

On the early evening of July 18, Emmanuel Jose “Em-J” Magno Pavia, Ateneo alumnus and teacher, was shot to death on his way home to Barangka, Marikina. His death has brought untold pain to the entire Ateneo community, especially his parents, longtime Ateneo High School faculty, and his brothers. Though official investigation continues, under no circumstances can the killing of such a young and dedicated teacher be spared condemnation in the strongest terms.

Em-J’s death and the recent spate of killings in our country and in the world compel us to examine our situation and to respond in the light of our common faith in a loving God.

We acknowledge the primal feelings of frustration, anger and fear unleashed by the violence that continues to stalk our people, particularly those who subsist at the margins of our society.

We are all too aware of drug-related violence and the entrenched networks of drug production, distribution and consumption, all of which destroy the life of individuals, families and our nation.

We recognize the willful efforts of government, the private sector and civil society to rid our communities of this drug menace and to institute measures that protect persons and property from such violence.

However, Christian faith tells us that Jesus came so that all may have life and have it more abundantly (Jn 10,10). Because of the fundamental Gospel value and sanctity of each person’s life, the death of anyone regardless of virtue cannot but diminish us, and any society or culture that encourages and multiplies death cheapens life for everyone.

We join our voice with other sympathetic voices in civil society. We find resonance with the sentiments of our friends from the La Sallian community on this pressing concern.

And we call upon members of the Ateneo community to:

  • Promote reverence for life, respect for human rights, and restorative justice;
  • Espouse best practices in crime prevention and control;
  • Watch over the enforcement of equality before the law, due process, and mandated judicial processes in instances of criminal arrest;
  • Lobby against the potential reinstatement of capital punishment and the lowering of the age of criminal liability;
  • Develop and protect transparent modes of truth telling in mass and social media as well as in pronouncements of government and civil society;
  • Address the root causes of violence, including all forms of addiction and bigotry, and help develop effective campaigns and programs against these.

At the advent of a new administration, the hope of authentic social change and personal transformation is raised before us once more. These cannot be truly achieved with fear as primary motivation or retribution as auxiliary deterrent. If real change is to happen, it can only come when we hold before us the value and sanctity of every person’s life.

The Prince of Peace lived among us to proclaim the life-giving news of God’s universal love and to establish the peace of the Kingdom in our midst. On his cross, there is only it seems callousness and savagery. With the eyes of faith however, we see differently. At times however dimly, we see love and mercy given in return for our cruelty. By his wounds that are our wounds, by his peace that is our peace, we are changed and at last redeemed.

amdg,

Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ
President
Ateneo de Manila University

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