De Lima defends Jesuit priest tagged in alleged ouster plot vs Duterte

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has stood behind Jesuit priest Fr. Albert Alejo, S.J., against claims he was part of the opposition’s efforts to produce the controversial “Ang Totoong Narco-list” videos allegedly used to oust Duterte and his allies.

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said it is grossly unfair to paint Fr. Alejo as among the enemies of the state because he has dedicated his life defending the powerless and fighting against any form of abuses.

“Sa panahon ngayon kung kailan ginigipit at kinokontrol ng gobyerno ang mga ahensya at institusyon na dapat sana’y nangangalaga at nagtatanggol sa karapatan ng mamamayan, saan nga ba maaaring humingi ng tulong at proteksyon ang mga indibidwal na nangangamba para sa kanilang buhay?” she asked.

The lady Senator from Bicol also pointed out that it is the moral duty of men of the Church to give assistance to individuals seeking their refuge, especially those who fear for their lives. “Si Fr. Alejo ay maaaring isa lamang din sa mga biktima ng mga kasinungalingan ni ‘Bikoy’ pero hindi ito dahilan para sisihin ang mga alagad ng Simbahan katulad niya kung ipatupad man nila ang kanilang obligasyon sa kapwa na humihingi ng gabay at kalinga,” she added.

Advincula, the hooded man in the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos who initially went into hiding amid supposed fear for his safety, surrendered to the Northern Police District of the National Capital Region Police Office last May 22.

He later on claimed that all allegations in the narcolist videos against Duterte’s relatives and allies were lies orchestrated by the Liberal Party and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. The former claimed that Fr. Albert Alejo introduced him to Trillanes.

Although Fr. Alejo has yet to speak up on the issue, the Jesuit Community in the Philippines has vouched for the former’s integrity even as it cried foul over claims that the priest was supposedly involved in plans to discredit Duterte and his allies.

De Lima, who counts Alejo as one of her spiritual advisers and personal friend, described the priest, fondly called by friends as “Paring Bert,” as “someone who is willing to sacrifice himself and his safety to uncover the truth and save Filipinos from imminent danger.”

“Paring Bert is yet to speak up on this allegation against him, that’s why I find it unfair that he is painted in a bad light as he continuously fights for what is true and just,” she added.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, reiterated that the only way to determine the truth both about Advincula and his narrative was to use “reason and discernment” and “digging deeper.” In her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 525, De Lima clarified that she and her staff members have nothing to do with the so-called ‘Bikoy’ expose, saying “none of us knows ‘Bikoy’ or has ever met or talked to him, or otherwise dealt with him.”

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