MANILA - Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Thursday denied his alleged involvement in an ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte, saying he would never condone illegal or violent means for social change.
Peter Joemel Advincula, who last month claimed responsibility for viral videos linking Duterte's family to the narcotics trade, had claimed Villegas and other critics of the President met about the plot at a Manila university in December last year.
The former president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines denied this, saying that on the date mentioned by Advincula, he was in Bataan province to deliver the homily at the first Mass of a newly ordained priest.
"As a mortal being like the rest of us, I have no capacity to be in two places at the same time," he said in a statement posted on the website of Radyo Veritas.
Villegas, who has been the subject of Duterte's tirades on several occasions, said his mission as a priest "is to continue the love of Jesus Christ and to teach His Truth always."
"I believe in the power of electing officials; that is why I have tried my very best, as a priest and as a Filipino, to morally guide the people entrusted to my pastoral care," he said.
"I cannot and will never lend a hand to use illegal or violent means for social change. Such will weaken our democratic foundations. This is contrary to my Christian conscience," he added.
Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, who was also tagged by Advincula in the supposed power grab plan, dismissed the allegation as "lies."