Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the Catholic faithful to rally with courage and ardent passion behind the fight of priests against human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration’s all-out war against drugs.
De Lima, a human rights and social justice champion, said the veiled threats to kill several members of the Catholic Clergy should call for renewed determination and concerted efforts from the citizenry to defend the priests and their causes.
“Suportahan po natin ang ating mga kaparian sa pamamagitan ng maingay at matapang na pagtutol sa mga kasamaan ng administrasyong ito lalung-lalo na itong polisiya ng pagpatay at malawakang panghuhuli at pagkulong na labag sa proseso ng batas,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 484.
“In more than two years in office, Duterte has already caused so much pain, agony and infamy. And now, he is undermining the very foundation of our beliefs. Dare touch the priests and Duterte will know how the blood of martyrs can ignite the flame in the hearts of the faithful and the Filipino people,” she added.
Last March 11, Fathers Albert Alejo, Flavie Villanueva and Robert Reyes – all known drug war critics – came out to reveal that they have been recently receiving death threats through short messaging system (SMS) from unknown senders.
In the copies of text messages they presented in a news briefing, it showed how unknown senders threatened to kill them, as well as Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio “Ambo” David, for being critical of the administration.
The lady Senator from Bicol noted these three priests, along with other religious leaders and human rights defenders, earned Duterte’s ire for “standing up for the very basic Christian tenet of upholding the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person.”
She said the priests’ words unmasking Duterte’s fake drug war, which already killed at least 27,000 poor and hapless Filipinos, angered him as they constantly reminded him that his Presidency is an “utter failure.”
“Duterte cannot allow this for this runs counter to his centerpiece strategy of governance – his murderous War on Drugs,” she said. De Lima said she believes that Duterte is accountable for the death threats currently terrorizing the country’s religious leaders, saying that “with his vitriolic attacks against the Church and its clergy, no amount of twisted explanation nor buck passing from the clown spokesperson Panelo could excuse the ‘resident evil’ in Malacañang.” De Lima has earlier denounced the continuing threats on the life of some priests who remain critical of the government even as she urged Mr. Duterte to finally stop promoting the culture of violence in the country, particularly killings.