Threats vs priests not from Duterte – Palace
It is “unfair” for critics to blame President Rodrigo Duterte for the death threats received by clergymen from the Catholic Church, as it was impossible to trace the source of such threats.
Malacañang on Tuesday maintained that the President had nothing to do with the threats received by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas and Fathers Robert Reyes, Albert Alejo and Flavie Villanueva, saying these could have come from “anti-Duterte trolls,” “pranksters” or even the clergymen’s “personal enemies.”
“These threats they are receiving, there are so many probabilities … We really don’t know,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a press briefing.
The Palace made the remarks after Villegas and the three other clergymen came forward and revealed that they have received death threats through text messages.
Earlier, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said he had also received death threats amid his criticisms of the Duterte administration’s violent campaign against illegal drugs.
The President has repeatedly attacked clergymen, especially those critical of his administration’s policies, calling them “useless” even as he urged “tambay” (street bums) to rob and kill rich bishops.
Last month, he told the public not to lay a finger on prelates and priests, and not to take his previous directive seriously.
This was after he was informed by the Manila archbishop, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, that David has been receiving threats to his life.
The Palace maintained that the President’s tirades against the Church were merely his “style” of connecting with his audience, which Filipinos have accepted.
Detained Sen. Leila de Lima called for prayers for the priests who had received death threats after speaking out against the Duterte administration and said the President could have influenced the development.
“What kind of personality and principles do these people sending threats to the men of God have?” De Lima said in a statement.
According to De Lima, this was the impact of leaders like Mr. Duterte, who had lambasted Catholic Church officials critical of the killings and human rights violations under his war on drugs.
“This is the influence and effect of those like Duterte, who influences Filipinos’ minds with so much evil. He has criticized the Church and even called God stupid,” she said.
De Lima said that if the President wanted to silence the priests who were speaking up against him, then he should put a stop to the killings taking place under his watch.
The President, however, won’t cease lambasting Church officials, challenging a priest he named only as “Fernandez” to surrender for killing his pregnant lover or be “killed like a dog.”
Die like a dog
The President did not give the details of the case involving the priest.
“This Fernandez? A priest who killed a pregnant paramour of his and he is … Nothing is happening to the case,” the President said at awarding ceremonies for 10 outstanding women in law enforcement and national security in Malacañang on Monday night.
“A warrant will be out. If there’s no police, they will be reluctant, so I will be the one to arrest you,” Mr. Duterte said.
He added: “You better surrender because if you will not, I’ll hunt you down. And if you don’t surrender, you put up a good fight. I’ll kill you like a dog. The law is the law. Period.”
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