Diocese expresses concern over safety of ‘shepherds’
The Diocese of Cubao has expressed alarm over the threats being directed at members of the clergy.
“Now, we find ourselves threatened by fulfilling our prophetic role. These threats to the life of our shepherds are not empty nor unfounded,” the diocese, led by Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, said in a statement.
“Now, the intensity of the threats have escalated. More bishops and priests have been threatened,” it added.
The diocese expressed fear that the lives of many other religious leaders might be put at risk as they continued to exercise their roles as prophets.
Last week, three priests — Fathers Robert Reyes, Albert Alejo and Flavie Villanueva — presented to the media threatening text messages they had received and a video showing a man acting suspiciously outside Villanueva’s house.
They did not hesitate to draw a direct line between President Rodrigo Duterte’s incendiary tirades against the Catholic Church and the death threats they had received.
Reyes is the parish priest of San Isidro Labrador Quasi-Parish Church, which is under the Diocese of Cubao.
“Their fault? They spoke the truth…. We are deeply concerned about shepherds, who are threatened when they exercise their role as prophets,” said Ongtioco.
He cited the cases of three other priests — Fathers Marcelito Paez, Mark Ventura and Richmond Nilo — who were killed last year.
“Their blood at the altar sanctuary may have dried but the [stains] still [cry] out for justice,” said Ongtioco.
The Cubao diocese also appealed to those threatening bishops and priests to just abandon their plans.
“For those who are intent on doing violence to others, remember, we are all children of God and each life is precious and important in the eyes of God, whether a bishop or a ‘tambay,’” it said.
In the same statement, the diocese scored the promotion of new values among the Filipino faithful that went against the commandments of God.
“It has now become ordinary that those things we hold to be inviolable and sacred have apparently been trivialized. It has become commonplace that traditional values we hold dear, such as respect for life, honesty, truthfulness, and the dignity of the human person are now threatened,” said the Cubao diocese.
“The young know what is right as what has been taught to them. But they are now confused. Why? Because a different set of values and examples [is] being pushed or promoted,” it added.
Earlier, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, also said that he had been receiving death threats, forcing him to restrict his movements.
David, an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs, had earned the ire of the President, who threatened to kill him in November 2018.
The President also accused him of being involved in the drug trade and pocketing church collections.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.