The Philippine National Police (PNP) is willing to provide security for Catholic leaders facing death threats, Police General Oscar Albayalde said Wednesday.
"Sinabi na nga ng ating presidente na protektahan ang mga pari (Our president said to protect priests). Give them protection," Albayalde said in an ambush interview.
Albayalde made the remark amid the revelation of Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, a vocal critic of the government's drug war, that he has been receiving death threats from unknown people since two weeks ago.
The threats against David came right after President Rodrigo Duterte said bishops were "better off dead" and even hinted that a certain Bishop "David" was stealing donations.
However, Albayalde believes Duterte's verbal tussle with Church leaders had nothing to do with the threats received by David.
"I don't think na mismong manggaling naman sa presidente 'yung threat (the threats came directly from the President)."
But opposition Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros think otherwise and said the President was to blame.
The Palace has refused to take the blame for death threats against Church officials, saying Duterte's perceived attacks were merely "hyperbole."
Last Monday, the President appealed to the public not to harm leaders of the Catholic Church despite repeatedly urging drug addicts and criminals to maul, kill and steal from moneyed bishops.