Four Catholic bishops, three priests, a religious brother, the country’s vice president, and 35 members of the opposition are under fire from Philippine authorities for allegedly plotting against the president.
It all started with the release of a video linking President Rodrigo Duterte and his family to the illegal drug trade.
Weeks later, in a turnabout, the author of the video, a certain Peter Advincula, claimed at a press conference that Vice President Leni Robredo, opposition members and several church leaders were behind a plot to oust the president.
If at the beginning the police discredited Advincula as a fugitive from the law, now he is regarded as a trustworthy source and could turn into a state witness.
The accused were all surprised and immediately replied that the charges being leveled against them are not only unjust but atrocious.
We believe that our fellow priests cannot be guilty of the charges against them simply because of their characters and consistent actions of seeking for the truth and freedom of expression. Yet, for them to be charged with a plot that is tantamount to violence, indeed seemed to be pure harassment and political persecution.
As men of the cloth, so to speak, and being representatives of Jesus Christ who was a man of peace even if He lived in a surrounding of violence, the charges of even inciting sedition can just be seen as a means of preventing the accused from speaking out against the alleged abuses of government officials.
We agree with the comment of one nun that the filing of the case against the bishops, priests, a religious brother, the vice president and 35 members of the opposition is “more of a reminder” of what is really happening and that instead of persecuting the accused, there should be a dialogue for clarification. A religious priest even pointed out that the charges were “unbelievable.”
As missionaries who are tasked to work for truth, justice, and spreading the Gospel we stand behind our fellow clergymen in their campaign against injustice and threats to freedom of expression.
One just needs to read the Bible and see that those who are for Christ, with Christ and in Christ, have never sought violence but instead are for seeking the truth, spreading the Good News, and living a life filled with love and care for his neighbors. Even Christ, during his time, was persecuted but in the end, His love overpowered injustice and His Church has prevailed till today.