Priest bikes ‘for life and peace;’ appeals for peace talks’ renewal

Edge Davao

A Mindanawon priest who biked “for life and peace” from Mindanao to Luzon four times since 2000 and walked from Mindanao to Aparri in 2011, embarked on another “Bike for Life and Peace” Wednesday from Baclaran in Metro Manila to Iligan City in Mindanao, his last long-distance bike journey before staring “a life of solitude, silence and prayer as a hermit.”

From the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, “biking priest” Fr. Amado Picardal of the Redemptorists, will travel 1,500 kilometers in 16 days, through Southern Luzon, Bicol, Samar, Leyte before crossing over to Surigao in Caraga and moving towards Cagayan de Oro in Northern Mindanao en route to Iligan City where he is expected to arrive on Maundy Thursday, March 29, 2018.

Picardal, who hails from Iligan, left Baclaran Church after the 8 a.m. mass Wednesday.

“Extrajudicial Killings, total war and martial law will not solve the basic problems of our people.  Thus, I make this appeal to all concerned — especially to President Duterte, government officials, the police and military:  Stop the Killing, start the healing. Resume Peace Talks. End Martial Law in Mindanao,” Picardal said in his pre-departure statement.

This 16-day bike journey will be his last, said Picardal, who served as Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) until December last year.

Fr. Amado “Picx” Picardal arrives in Cagayan de Oro City, accompanied by cyclists from Malaybalay City, Bukidnon on Dec. 22, 2014 en route to Iligan City, the last leg of his “Climate Ride”, a campaign to boost awareness on climate change and its impact. The priest’s 14-day advocacy ride started in Baclaran. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

The priest, who is turning 64 in October, biked “for peace” across the country for 18 days in 2000, meeting truckloads of soldiers on their way to the Estrada administration’s “all-out war” in Mindanao;  “for life and peace” around Mindanao for 21 days in 2006; “for life and peace” from Davao to Aparri and back or 5,000 kilometers for 56 days in 2008; walked “for life and peace” from Davao to Aparri in the summer of 2011 and in the stormy month of December 2014,  went on a 1,800 kilometer 14-day “Climate Ride” from Manila to Iligan via Bicol, Samar, Leyte, Compostela Valley, Davao, Bukidnon, and Cagayan de Oro.

“I know that my bike advocacy will not make a lot of difference. I am just a tiny voice or a mere point of light in the dark. But I believe and hope that even small acts that we do will add to the collective efforts to awaken the conscience of the nation and bring about goodness and decency in our country,” Picardal said.

He explained he is “fully aware of the risks and danger” he is facing, that “I too can be a target of extrajudicial killing.”

“I will not cower in fear. I will not back down. I believe that there is still goodness and humanity within each one no matter how sinful. Even hardened killers can change. I have seen this in the former members of the DDS (Davao Death Squad) that I have met and who have gone through a process of conversion. I pray for the day when we recognize each as siblings and friends,” said Picardal, who narrated he was “almost ‘salvaged’ having undergone torture and imprisonment under Martial Law.”