MANILA - The incumbent bishop of the Diocese of San Pablo in Laguna has decried the inclusion of their former bishop in a list of alleged destabilizers plotting to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
In an interview with Church-run Radio Veritas on Tuesday, Bishop Buenaventura Famadico said Bishop Emeritus Leo Drona was already too old and too sick to lead any destabilization plot against the Duterte administration.
"Sa mga ganitong mga gawain ay una tingnan muna kung nasaan ang katotohanan lalo't higit sa mga matatanda katulad ni bishop (Drona). Irespeto naman ang kaniyang kalagayan," the bishop said.
[In a situation like this, let's look first where the truth is especially with the elderly like bishop (Drona). Let's respect his condition.]
Drona resigned as the bishop of San Pablo in January 2013 even when he was not yet 75, the mandatory age of retirement for prelates, due to his deteriorating health.
Famadico said the former bishop was suffering from poor eyesight due to macular degeneration and is now wheelchair-bound in a retirement house in Don Bosco, Canlubang. Despite this, he said the 77-year-old prelate still strives to do his best to fulfill his duties of presiding over Masses.
"Ipinagdarasal namin na sana'y ang ganung report ay would be based on justice, respect, and truth," Famadico added.
[We are praying that reports like this would be based on justice, respect, and truth.]
Through social media, Duterte's son Paolo released a list of individuals and groups allegedly plotting to oust his father.
The list included Vice President Leni Robredo and other opposition personalities, journalists Maria Ressa, Ellen Tordesillas, and Ed Lingao, former government officials and progressive groups, and even a fastfood chain.
But critics were quick to question several names on the list including Bishop Julio Labayen, who died even before President Duterte was elected. Paolo Duterte's list also included a certain Bishop Arturo Santos, but there is no such name on the list of bishops under the Philippine Catholic hierarchy.
Paolo Duterte has since deleted the list.
'LEARN TO ACCEPT CRITICISM'
Meanwhile, Caloocan Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iñiguez, who was also included on the list, said he understands why he is being suspected of plotting to overthrow the Duterte administration.
"I can understand kasi minsan na-interview ako ng media, may nasasabi akong mga reaction at hindi naman lahat ng reaction ko ay pabor," the bishop said.
[I can understand because sometimes I get media interviews and my reactions are not all in favor of the administration.]
"Kung minsan nakapagbibitiw din ako ng mga hindi pabor sa gobyerno kasi sa katunayan we are just observing. Sinasabi namin 'yung nasa kalooban namin na maaring siya ang katotohanan na dapat umiral."
[Sometimes I say things that are not favorable to the government but we are just observing. We say what we think, which is probably the truth that must be upheld.]
Iñiguez said the government must not treat criticism with hostility. He said taking note of negative feedback would show that every opinion matters and must be heard.
"Sana ang gobyerno ay magkaroon din ng tamang pagtanggap ng mga reaksyon kahit na mga negative reaction upang maiwasto kung ano ang hindi tama," the prelate added.
[I hope the government will learn to accept feedback, even negative reactions, so that they may be able to correct what is wrong.]
Also on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana cleared Robredo of involvement in the alleged plot, calling it "fake news."