MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's withdrawal of the amnesty of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is meant to divert public attention away from rising consumer prices and underemployment, an official of the Catholic Church in Manila said Sunday.
Officials last week announced that inflation accelerated to 6.4 percent in August, holding at levels last seen a decade ago, while underemployment in July rose to 17.2 percent from 16.3 percent in the same period last year.
These issues cannot be addressed by Duterte's move to void the amnesty that absolves Trillanes of charges over 2 failed mutinies, said Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo.
"Parang inililihis tayo sa tunay na issue na dapat tugunan ng pamahalaan," he told radio DZMM.
(It seems that we are being diverted away from issues that the government should address.)
"Sana mabuksan ang tainga ng ating mga nasa pamahalaan at pakinggan ang mga daing ng mga tao tungkol sa mga presyo, mga problemang nararamdaman nila ngayon," he added.
(I hope the government can open its ears and listen to the complaints of the public over consumer prices and other problems.)
Duterte withdrew Trilanes's amnesty due to his alleged failure to apply for it properly and express guilt for his crimes.
Trillanes denied this, saying the President's move aims to silence a Senate inquiry into the alleged government contracts bagged by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Pabillo agreed to this saying, "Iyung pagpapahuli sa kaniya (Trillanes) ay para sa political moves lang iyun, para patahimikin ang mga critics lalong-lalo na ngayon na nag-iimbestiga ang Senate tungkol kay Calida."
(The order to arrest him is part of political moves to silence critics especially now that the Senate is investigating Calida.)
The public, he said, should speak out and remain vigilant to prevent any possible abuse of power.
Trillanes has asked the Supreme Court to block Duterte's withdrawal of his amnesty.
He remains holed up in his office at the Senate building, from where arresting officers have been banned.
His supporters camped out overnight outside the gates of the Senate.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has not commented on Trillanes' woes because it is not in session. The release of any statement for now would depend on its president, Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, said Pabillo.