Philippine Police Seek Sedition Charges Against Clergy, Duterte Critics

07/22/2019 Philippines (International Christian Concern) – Last week, Philippine authorities filed charges of inciting sedition, cyber libel, libel and obstruction of justice against four Catholic bishops, three priests, a religious brother, the country’s vice president and 35 members of the opposition.

The four prelates were Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, retired prelate Teodoro Bacani Jr., and Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan.

The priests are, Divine Word priest Flaviano Villanueva, Jesuit priest Albert Alejo and Father Robert Reyes.

The police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group allege Vice President Leni Robredo, Catholic Church leaders and opposition politicians plotted to destabilize the Duterte government by implicating him in the narcotics trade.

President Duterte launched a drug war when he came into power in 2016. It has claimed thousands of lives and invited widespread criticism.

President of the Catholic bishops’ conference, Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, said he is very saddened by this news and is greatly disturbed by this development, that “they are accused of sedition and other criminal complaints is for me beyond belief.”

The prelate said these church leaders “are bishops whose sincerity, decency, respectfulness and love for our country and our people are beyond doubt.”

Father Jerome Secillano, chairman of the public affairs office of the bishops’ conference, also stated that “The move is obviously meant to scare the hell out of these churchmen and eventually silence them” as Duterte’s critics, when what they did was merely call on the government to be more circumspect and prudent in their actions.

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