More priests reveal receiving death threats
This file photos shows Manila Cathedral inside Intramuros.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, File

More priests reveal receiving death threats

(Philstar.com) - March 11, 2019 - 7:49pm

MANILA, Philippines — More Catholic priests have come forward to expose death threats against them, two weeks after Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David confirmed receiving threatening messages.

At a press conference Monday, priests Albert Alejo, Flavie Villanueva and Robert Reyes revealed death threats they have recently received. The priests also bared that threats in the form of text messages were also sent to Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villages.

Alejo, a Jesuit priest, admitted that they came out because of fear as he appealed to the masterminds of the threats to stop the wrongdoing.

“Bakit nga ba sila nananakot? ‘Yung mga nananakot sa amin ay takot din. Meron silang kinatatakutan,” he said.

(Why are they threatening? Those who are threatening us are also threatened. They also fear something.)

Reyes—known as the “running priest”—said their response is not silence.

“Ang sagot ay hindi pananahimik kundi malinaw, matapang na pamamahayag at paninindigan. Itigil na ang pananakot, itigil na ang pagpatay,” Reyes said.

(The answer should not be silence, but clear, courageous proclamation and conviction. Stop the threats, stop the killings.)

Both Reyes and Villanueva said there were individuals seemingly conducting surveillance in their residences.

Stronger stance from CBCP

Alejo lamented that the diplomatic approach of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is “valid but not working.”

“That is a valid approach but it’s good to realize is that it’s not enough. Maybe what we need to do is not to expect everything from the bishops. I think the CBCP should be stronger in its position and that strong position should be based on real, solid data, real solid analysis of the data,” Alejo said.

He added: “The hierarchy in the Catholic Church should be stronger. The people are in need of a stronger position from the leadership of the hierarchy.”

Reyes, for his part, urged his colleagues to speak out.

“There should be more of us out there at the forefront of the battle against violence, vulgarity, violation of human rights and dignity,” Reyes said.

The threats came amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s continued attacks against Catholic priests, who have been voicing their opposition to his deadly war on drugs.

The Catholic Church, its priests and its beliefs have been a constant target of the president in his speeches but the Palace has repeatedly explained these away as jokes or Duterte’s way to criticize the hypocrites in the clergy.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier claimed without expounding that critics have been manipulating Duterte’s jokes to confuse the public. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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