Bishop David confirms getting death threats

Bishop David confirms getting death threats

Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David listen to a woman lamenting the spate of extrajudicial killings in Navotas City, July 2, 2017. CBCPNEWS

By Roy Lagarde

February 26, 2019

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic bishop, who has been critical of the government’s bloody drug war, confirmed receiving death threats from unknown people.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said the threats first came about two weeks ago.

“But I don’t know who they are coming from,” said David, who is also the Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

In a turnaround from previous remarks, President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday warned people against harming bishops and clergymen.

At a campaign rally in Cebu City, he quoted part of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s message to him that David and some priests received death threats from “someone claiming to be working for the president’s family”.

“Do not touch priests, they had nothing to do with politics,” Duterte said.

“Either Muslims or Christians, they had nothing to do with us. Do not do it. Do not try to do it. The religious [leaders] has nothing to do with the vagaries of life. Lay off! Stop threatening them or you will have to face me,” he added.

Duterte has repeatedly slammed the Church in response to its criticism against his drug war and David has become the main target of the president’s tirade.

Recently, the president intensified his attacks on the Church, even urging people to kill bishops.

Asked if the death threats are tied to his campaign against drug killings, David said, “your guess is as good as mine”.

Still, the bishop said nothing would stop him from being critical of the drug war which has already claimed thousands of lives.

Human rights advocates alleged that the death toll in Duterte’s drug war has surpassed 20,000 since he assumed office in 2016.

“No threat or intimidation can stop me from carrying on with my spiritual and pastoral duties as a bishop,” David said.