CBCP chief chides sedition charges against bishops, priests

CBCP chief chides sedition charges against bishops, priests

By Roy Lagarde

July 20, 2019

Manila, Philippines

The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines expressed skepticism at the sedition charges against some church leaders, describing the case as “distressing”.

Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP President, said that knowing the accused bishops, the charges against them “is for me beyond belief”.

“I am very saddened by this news and greatly disturbed by this development. I know these bishops quiet well,” Archbishop Valles said.

Four bishops and three priests were accused of cyber libel and sedition, along with several opposition figures.

The charges stemmed from the series of online videos alleging that President Duterte and his family members were involved in the illegal drugs trade.

The accused CBCP members are Archbishop Socrates Villegas, and bishops Pablo Virgilio David, Honesto Ongtioco and Teodoro Bacani.

Except for Ongtioco, the other prelates are known outspoken critics of Duterte’s controversial war on drugs.

“But that they consciously worked promoting seditious activities and other related crimes, these honestly I cannot believe,” Archbishop Valles said.

According to him, the bishops’ sincerity, decency, respectfulness and love for the country “are beyond doubt”.

“I cannot bring myself to believe that these bishops were involved in seditious activities,” he added.

Bishop David, who is also the CBCP Vice President, cried foul over the “unjust” and “atrocious” charges leveled against them.

“The intention is obvious: pure harassment and an effort on the part of the PNP to do, not their sworn duty, but what they think will be pleasing to the higher authorities,” he said.

The Kalookan prelate said the police move is a “disservice” and doing their institution an injustice.

For his part, Bishop Ongtioco said he was surprised with his inclusion to the complaints.

“I do not know why I am included in the list. I am and will always be a person of peace,” the Cubao bishop said.