Bishop: Attack on clergy belittles Church
SAN PEDRO CITY—A Catholic bishop on Thursday said the threats on the life of Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David were actually meant to “belittle the Church.”
Marinduque Bishop Marcelino Antonio Maralit Jr. said David may have been receiving death threats due to his stand on extrajudicial killings (EJKs) related to the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs.
“[These threats against] Bishop David are meant to belittle the Church. It is unacceptable [that they will] attack him for protecting his people,” Maralit said.
David recently disclosed that he had been receiving death threats from unknown people.
President Duterte earlier castigated the bishop for criticizing his war on drugs.
While Malacañang described Duterte’s threat as mere “hyperbole,” Maralit said the “contextual situation” connected the threats to David’s stand on drug-related killings, particularly in Caloocan, which has among the highest number of EJKs in the country.
Made in jest
“David was just doing his job like any pastor or shepherd … We respect his position and we will support him because he is the one who knows what his people need,” Maralit said.
But the Palace on Thursday slammed the President’s critics and detractors for making his statements look malicious when, it said, they were made in jest.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the grave threats against David “could [have been] done by pranksters, anti-Duterte trolls, or the personal enemies of the bishop.”
The President’s haters were converting his jokes “into a grave and serious marching order so as to confuse the public and at the same time put themselves in a position where they can criticize [him],” Panelo said, adding that the government would not allow David to be harmed.
Some members of the clergy said it was the President’s rants against bishops and priests that were causing the threats.
True or not, joke or not
“He is the President and whatever he says—true or not, joke or not—carry much weight,” said Fr. Gerry Causapin, parish priest of Paluan in Occidental Mindoro.
“Threats are clear and present danger, a deplorable manifestation of the culture of impunity that’s creeping into the consciousness of people nowadays … ” said Fr. Andy Peter Lubi, rector of the St. Augustine Major Seminary in Tagaytay City.
In Davao City, the Ecumenical Bishops Forum expressed concern over the safety of Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Felixberto Calang, whose name was included among the 19 people tagged as members of the New People’s Army in an alleged “military hit list” circulated in Cagayan de Oro last week. —WITH REPORTS FROM MART SAMBALUD AND CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO