Bishops on sedition: Truth shall set us free
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco and retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr. said they continue to pray for the Department of Justice that would decide on the cases against them.
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Bishops on sedition: Truth shall set us free
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - September 9, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Four Catholic bishops accused of plotting the ouster of President Duterte have turned to prayers as sedition charges against them hang over their heads.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco and retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr. said they continue to pray for the Department of Justice that would decide on the cases against them.

The church leaders were reportedly among those tasked to provide financial and logistical support as well as security and accommodations to those involved in the ouster plot.

“Now that all respondents have filed their respective pleadings, we renew our faith in the power of truth to set us all – accusers, accused and justice officials together – free,” the prelates said. 

The four prelates, known for criticizing Duterte’s war on drugs, are among the 36 persons named by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) in the sedition complaint they filed at the DOJ.  

“We prayed instantly, even until now, for our accusers. May they meet the God of all Truths, be touched by His grace and stay away from the prince of lies,” the bishops said in their joint fraternal message over the weekend.

They said they have refused to appear before the media for interviews and to attend rallies after the police had filed a sedition complaint against them. They, instead, turned to their most powerful weapon – prayer.

“We have been praying fervently too for the team of prosecutors tasked to evaluate the case. May they be guided by nothing but the spirit of justice and truth. There can be no justice without truth. Justice without facts is no justice at all. We cling to the belief that our officials in the Department of Justice adhere to these values,” they added. 

Last Friday, the DOJ panel of prosecutors already had in their possession the complaint affidavit and almost all of the counter-affidavits of the 36 respondents. The panel is still awaiting the counter-affidavits of three other respondents including Sen. Leila de Lima.

The panel of prosecutors are expected to decide if the case would be dismissed or if the bishops would be taken to court. 

The bishops were accused of being part of the “shadow group” for “Project Sodoma,” an alleged plot to unseat the President.

The bishops were also named by Advincula, who claimed he was “Bikoy” in the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” series posted on YouTube.

“We invite Bikoy (Peter Joemel Advincula) to turn back to God whose offer of mercy and forgiveness is without limits,” the bishops said of the individual who, according to accounts, had sought the help of priests and bishops in the past.

The prelates, however, vowed to remain loyal to their responsibility to their flock as “God’s shepherds.”

“This cross we carry now is nothing compared to the agony and passion of the Lord and the pains and aches of the poor. Our defense for human life and the sacredness of marriage remains. Our message of peace based on truth will not be perturbed. Our zeal for souls will not falter,” said the bishops.

“Our mission is yet incomplete. We will not be discouraged,” they added. – Eva Visperas

HONESTO ONGTIOCO PABLO VIRGILIO DAVID SEDETION SOCRATES VILLEGAS TEODORO BACANI JR.
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