MANILA - The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, is rallying for support for bishops who are facing sedition charges in connection with an alleged plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a statement released on Friday, Valles expressed solidarity with his fellow bishops, especially in the "difficult days ahead."
"The processes related to the charges of the crime of sedition have now started to move. They are now asked to submit their counter affidavits. We ask ourselves as brother bishops, what can we do for them?" Valles said.
"Thus, today, my invitation and my appeal to all of you, brother archbishops and bishops in the whole country – Let us be in solidarity with them in prayer."
Lingayen Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, and Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani are among Filipino clergymen who were accused in connection with the viral "Ang Totoong Narcolist" videos that tagged the President Rodrigo Duterte's family in illegal-drugs operations.
The complaint was based on a sworn statement of Peter Joemel Advincula, the man who introduced himself as hooded figure "Bikoy" in the videos that made rounds on social media at the height of the May elections.
Valles dedicated two solemnities when the Catholic Church in the Philippines must offer prayers, reflections, and homilies for the embattled bishops: August 6, which is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and August 15, which is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
"Let us not forget to include in our prayers, during the abovementioned special days, the people in government who are involved in the processes regarding the cases filed against these bishops," Valles added.
"We pray to the Lord for them, with the intercession of the Blessed Mother, that a deep sense of fairness, justice and truth will guide them."
Valles, a friend of the Duterte family, earlier said the sedition and cyber-libel charges were "beyond belief."
Meanwhile, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has also dedicated a special prayer to be recited in masses within the archdiocese in support of his fellow bishops.