CBCP denies hand in Duterte 'destabilization'


Posted at Oct 15 2017 04:07 PM

FILE PHOTO: A woman gets emotional while speaking about her loved one killed due to alleged involvement in illegal drugs, during a Mass inside a Roman Catholic Church in Parañaque, early March 2017. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denied Sunday an alleged plot to undermine President Rodrigo Duterte, even as it called for the public to join a prayer rally condemning the killings under his anti-narcotics drive. 

Duterte last week threatened to jail communist leaders and establish a "revolutionary government," if opponents tried to destabilize his rule. His warning came as the influential Catholic Church and leftist groups took a prominent role in speaking out against his drug war. 

"Walang layunin na patalsikin ang ating Pangulo, i-undermine ang ating Pangulo. Mariin naming sinasabi na ang Simbahan ay hindi gagawa ng hakbang para i-undermine natin ang Pangulo," Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP Public Affairs committee, told DZMM. 

"Hindi magandang isipin ng taumbayan na ito ay People Power, na ang Simbahan ay nag-aalsa," he added. 

(There is no goal to oust our President from office or undermine our President. We strongly assert that the Catholic Church will not take steps to undermine the President. The public should not think that we are mounting a People Power, that the Church is heading a uprising.) 

Church leaders "condemn in the strongest sense" the narcotics trade, but they cannot support the deaths of thousands of drug suspects in law enforcement operations, Secillano said. 

"Ang Simbahan naman kasi, patuloy na naninindigan iyan na hindi puwede talagang suportahan iyung mga patayan na nangyayari," the CBCP officer said. 

Secillano urged the public to attend a Mass at the EDSA Shrine at 3 p.m. on November 5 to pray for the "victims of extrajudicial killings." 

After the "Lord Heal Our Land Sunday" Mass, a candlelight procession will be held to the People Power Monument, located a kilometer away from the shrine. 

The activities, which will be led by outgoing CBCP Presdient and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, will mark the start of a 33-day period of praying for the country's "healing." 

PNP data shows 3,800 people have been killed in operations in which police say armed suspects violently resisted arrest.