Archbishop denies link to ‘Bikoy,’ ouster plot
DAGUPAN CITY—Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Thursday dismissed allegations linking him to a supposed ouster plan against President Duterte.
Villegas said he had never met Peter Joemel Advincula, who came forward as the hooded man “Bikoy” in a series of videos linking members of Mr. Duterte’s family to the illegal drug trade.
The former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said he was at Orani town in Bataan province and was delivering the homily in an ordination Mass on Dec. 12, 2018, the day Advincula claimed to have met with him.
Advincula on Tuesday claimed the December meeting was to discuss plans to unseat Duterte and ensure the defeat of administration-backed senatorial candidates in the recently concluded elections.
“As a mortal being like the rest of us, I have no capacity to be in two places at the same time,” Villegas said in a statement posted on the official Twitter page of the Catholic-run Radio Veritas.
Villegas said he “cannot and will never” lend a hand in the use of illegal or violent means for social change, saying such actions would weaken the country’s democratic foundations.
“This is contrary to my Christian conscience,” Villegas said.
“I believe in the power of electing officials; that is why I have tried my very best, as a priest and as a Filipino, to morally guide the people entrusted to my pastoral care,” the Catholic Church leader said. —GABRIEL CARDINOZA
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