MANILA - The recent killings of Catholic priests is "not something that we should be afraid of," Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said Monday.
In a speech at the Immaculate Conception Major Seminary in Bulacan, David, also vice president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said the slain priests were not victims, but martyrs of the Catholic faith.
"It is true that there are now a number of priests being killed. Yet it is not something that we should be afraid of. They are not victims. They are martyrs," the bishop was quoted in a CBCP News report.
"They show us how valuable priesthood is. It is willing to stand up amidst persecution."
In a span of six months, three Catholic priests were killed.
Rev. Fr. Richmond Nilo from the Diocese of Cabanatuan was killed on Sunday as he was about to celebrate Mass.
In April 2018, Rev. Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura was also shot dead by an unidentified gunman after celebrating Mass in Gattaran, Cagayan.
In December 2017, Rev. Fr. Marcelito Paez was gunned down by unidentified assailants after assisting in the release of a political prisoner in the town of Jaen, Nueva Ecija.
Meanwhile, Fr. Rey Urmenta, a former PNP chaplain, survived an ambush in Calamba, Laguna just last week.
The CBCP has condemned this spate of killings, calling it an "outrageously evil act."
Other Catholic bishops, including Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Lingayen Archbishop Socrates Villegas, also slammed the killings while appealing to the government for a swift resolution of the cases.
Meanwhile, David also warned against being complacent especially in a time "when the faith is being attacked."
"Critics are being attacked and silenced whenever they speak against them. Yet why will you be quiet when your faith is being attacked?" the bishop added.
David has been a vocal critic of the administration, especially the war on drugs.
It was in communities covered by his diocese in Caloocan where the controversial killings of teenagers Kian delos Santos and Carl Angelo Arnaiz took place last year, allegedly in the hands of law enforcers.