The letter was issued as Filipinos began celebrating the centennial of independence, and also called on them to continue to struggle for the principles of revolution: ending poverty, injustice, and inequality. "We apologize for the ambiguous stand some church people held during the revolution," the statement said. Spanish friars dominated the clergy during the Spanish colonial era, and many worked with colonial authorities in suppressing the revolutionary movement. Some Filipinos were able to join the priesthood, but often were the subject of suspicion by friars.
Three priests who promoted independence were executed by the Spaniards after being framed for helping a mutineer in 1872. The three -- Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgoz, and Jacinto Zamora -- became martyrs in the anti-colonial struggle that led to a declaration of independence from Spain in 1898. The same year, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States after the Spanish-American War.