Masses set for clergy charged with sedition
MANILA, Philippines — The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) dedicated two special Masses this month for the clergymen who have been accused of sedition by the police.
“The processes… have now started to move … Let us invite our priest, our religious, our people to join us in this solidarity in prayer,” Davao Archbishop and CBCP president Romulo Valles said in a statement.
The police filed sedition charges against 36 individuals, including eight clergymen, over “The Real Narcolist” videos supposedly made by Peter Joemel Advincula, alias “Bikoy,” in April.
The clergymen are CBCP vice president and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, former CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr., “running priest” Robert Reyes, Divine Word Missionaries priest Flaviano Villanueva, Jesuit priest Albert Alejo and former Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
Aside from the clergymen, Valles will also dedicate Masses on Aug. 6 (Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord) and Aug. 15 (The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) for those who are involved in the cases.
“We pray to the Lord for them, with the intercession of the Blessed Mother, that a deep sense of fairness, justice and truth will guide them,” Valles said.
Lasallians speak up
At the same time, De La Salle Philippines finally spoke out and denounced the police’s sedition charges against two prominent Lasallians: Luistro and founding law school dean Chel Diokno.
In a statement signed by its chief executive officer Edgar Chua and 14 university presidents, De La Salle also urged the Philippine National Police to “live up to its ideals of service, honor and justice, and not to allow itself to be used for political ends.”
“Fighting for [human] life, dignity and liberty was merely an exercise of their constitutionally protected rights, and does not equate to sedition nor inciting to sedition,” De La Salle said.
“We strongly denounce these charges against them and the leaders of the opposition, especially as these are based solely on the affidavit of a convicted felon Joemel Advincula,” it added.
It also called on the government to “stop filing charges against perceived critics.”
“Instead, [it should] perform its duty to protect the democratic space for decent grievances and critical perspectives,” it added.
Pampanga Archbishop Florentino Lavarias also called for “prayerful solidarity” with the clergymen whom he described as having been “falsely accused.”
‘For justice to prevail’
“Let us ardently pray for the truth to triumph and for justice to prevail,” Lavarias said, citing biblical verses pertaining to the persecution of prophets.
Lavarias asked the faithful in his suffragan dioceses of Balanga City in Bataan province, Iba in Zambales province and Tarlac province to join a Mass at the St. James Parish Church in Guagua town on Aug. 6.
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