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Amante, Kevin Q.

Film Review 1
JD3 May 11, 2018


Romero is a 1989 film starring the titular character, Father Óscar Arnulfo Romero y
Galdámez. It is a true story that depicts the 1977 El Salvadoran presidential elections. The film
focused on the life of Father Romero during the presidential elections up to his assassination
on March 24, 1980. The film also added some fictional characters like Lucy Reina who really
brought out the tense feeling of the film.

During the 1977 presidential elections, the military regime launched the terror
campaign where they sent death squads to detain, torture and kill anyone that threatened the
success of the military regime and is specifically focused in crushing the guerrillas. It was then
that Father Romero was elevated by the Vatican as Archbishop of San Salvador. The clergy
thought that Father Romero would not get involved with the political unrest and military
disputes. Father Romero was initially hesitant in stirring anti- government disputes coupled
with the fact that he was supported by the rich and powerful Catholics of El Salvador’s ruling
class. However, after his good friend, Father Rutilio Grande, an outspoken Jesuit was killed,
Father Romero began to take a stand against the government’s abuses against Human Rights.
Father Romero’s transformation to an outspoken advocate of the poor and oppressed was
perceived as disloyalty as he was actively protesting against the government’s actions. This
prompted the government to destroy churches and target priest as an example of their power
and to discourage Father Romero from further resistance. Despite the atrocities committed by
the military, Father Romero stayed strong and true. He actively celebrated the Eucharist in the
face of horrors, demonstrating how faith cannot be deterred through solidarity. Although Father
Romero was a deterrent to the plans of the military regime, he was not really a target for
elimination. It was only after he made a radio broadcast, advising the soldiers to follow their
conscience if ordered to abuse or harass the poor and the oppressed. This led to his assassination
while he was celebrating the Eucharist on March 24, 1980. After Father Romero spoke the
gruesome truth, a civil war broke out in El Salvador which claimed the lives of approximately
60,000 people from 1980 to 1989.
The film depicted several scenes that for me, truly left a lasting impression. First was
the scene where the voters aboard a bus were prevented by the military to reach the polls. When
the voter’s opted to walk, the soldiers destroyed the bus so that they would have no
transportation for the return journey. This scene truly depicted how twisted the military of El
Salvador. It was already unlawful for them to prevent the citizens from voting, but to also
destroy their convenience was a true sign of bad intent and bad faith on their part. Second is
the scene where Father Romero saw the difference between the rich and the poor of El Salvador
when he visited the place of the guerillas. It was here when I realized that El Salvador has an
economic problem which started the war with the guerillas. It is the same problem that the
church wanted to address in Rerum Novarum. The church correctly surmised that the economic
problems brought about by the tension between labor and capital would result to far worse
things like human rights violations and civil war which was what was happening in El Salvador.
Third is the scene where Father Romero tried to reclaim the church that the military transformed
as a barracks. In that scene, the soldiers maltreated Father Romero and the inhabitants of the
locale and even desecrated the church. However, in this same scene, we can see the grit of
Father Romero and the people when they united against the military to celebrate the Eucharist.
In this scene, we can see that solidarity gives us strength and that if our faith is true, it cannot
be curbed even by overwhelming odds. Lastly, the scene where Father Romero was
assassinated. Since the film is a true story, the audience is already aware that Father Romero
would be murdered by the military. However, the feeling of sadness and anger still lingered
when I watched the assassination. How can anyone do something so brazen as to kill an
Archbishop that only wants the best for their country? Under Philippine Laws, any person who
acts in obedience to an order issued by a superior for some lawful purpose is a justifying
circumstance that would negate criminal liability.1 However, we can already see that such order
was unlawful. The assassins that killed Father Romero were directly acting in contrast against
his teachings to the military of acting in compassion and conscience if ordered to harass the
oppressed that he shared just before being murdered.

The film is a true display of faith to the Lord and courage to protect the poor and the
oppressed. It is truly a marvel how someone so reserved can transform into a man without fear,
a man with conscience and compassion for the poor. While watching the film, the audience can

1 Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code.

truly feel the terror that the citizens of El Salvador must have suffered. El Salvador was plagued
by enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings which could have been properly avoided
or cured if they had laws that prohibited the violation or threats against the life, liberty and
security of their citizens. The Philippines was also under such threats and violations during the
reign of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Thankfully, it was addressed by the
promulgation of the writ of amparo. The Supreme Court of the Philippines was urged to
promulgate the writ of amparo because of the rampant drama of the plight of the people.2
Pursuant to its power to promulgate rules in protecting the Constitutional Rights of the people,
the Supreme Court promulgated the writ of amparo as a direct counter to the prevalent enforced
disappearances and extrajudicial killings.3 It is also worthy to note that like Father Romero, the
Philippines also had heroes that started the revolution which eventually freed the Filipino

The Rosemary is a woody herb with needle like leaves but once it blooms, the rosemary
turns into a beautiful fragrant purple flower. Rosemary is also the English translation for
Romero. A fitting name which in my opinion, accurately describes Father Romero as he was
at first, reserved in making actions but once he saw the plight of the people, he bloomed into a
flower that became a beacon of hope to many El Salvador citizens. We cannot deny that what
Father Romero in the face of overwhelming terror was heroic. He proved that no matter the
odds, we must strive to protect the poor and the oppressed. We must always exercise
compassion just as God did for us. In Solidarity we gain strength and in faith we are renewed.
We must also follow our conscience when ordered to do something that we would not want
others to do unto us even if it is our duty to follow. As future lawyers, we cannot be consumed
by the system. We ought to be like Father Romero and fight for what is right and true rather
than join and surrender to what is ought to be stopped.

2 Cheryl L. Daytec. The Writs of Habeas Corpus and Amparo: A Comparison of Remedies Against The
Menaces of State Power. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law. July 14, 2011.