Duterte is sole threat to Catholic Church, says De Lima
MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday doubted the sincerity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s warning to the public not to harm bishops and priests.
“The Catholic Church cannot possibly trust Duterte when he says that bishops and priests should not be harmed and that those who harm them will have to deal with him,” De Lima said in her latest dispatch from her detention cell in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Duterte had earlier told bystanders to kill and rob bishops, but later changed his tune after he revealed that he received a text message from Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle saying that Caloocan Bishop Pablo David and other priests have received death threats from someone claiming to be part of close to the first family.
De Lima stressed that “the Catholic clergy was never threatened with harm by anybody until Duterte said that they are better off dead.”
“No one in this Catholic country, whether politician or ordinary citizen, ever had in his agenda the killing of bishops and priests, until Duterte started it. Only Duterte, among all the inhabitants of this country, said that the bishops deserve to be robbed and killed,” the senator stressed.
She said the threats received by priests and bishops came from Duterte.
“The death threat came from him. His warning now that they should not be harmed can only be addressed to him,” she said.
“Once again, Duterte is toying with officials of the Catholic Church with his sick jokes that can only come from a sick mind,” she said.
“What is worrying is that Duterte’s jokes can be taken seriously by his executioners who have already reiterated the same death threats to several clergymen,” she added.
Despite his public warning to the public not to harm clergymen, De Lima said Duterte should be blamed for murdered priests and bishops.
“Duterte is not fooling anyone with his Pontius Pilate act. As it is for the victims of the drug war, when men of the cloth become the targets of Duterte’s assassins, it will be no joking matter,” she said.
“The blood of murdered priests and bishops will still be on his hands. The real tragedy here is not that more people will die, but that we did not stop the madman even after he started going after the leaders of our church,” she added. / gsg
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