MANILA - Speaking up on the administration's bloody war on drugs and other social ills is to uphold morality, according to a Filipino Catholic priest awarded the Human Rights Tulip Award by the Dutch government.
Fr. Flaviano Villanueva on Thursday quoted Pope Francis saying, "Good Catholics should meddle in politics because it allows them to express and practice their faith in everyday dealing and endeavor."
Villanueva was recognized for his work as co-founder of the PAGHILOM program, a church-based support group that gives families left behind by victims of extrajudicial killings "holistic care," including psychosocial intervention for trauma, legal documentation, and scholarships and livelihood.
"When we see thousands killed, when we are witness to the truth being revised and history being revisioned or tampered with, then it’s not an issue of politics anymore. I believe it’s an issue of defending the truth, standing for the sanctity of life, and upholding what is moral and what is just," he told ANC's Headstart.
"You have here the 3 functions of what Catholic is: the way, the truth, and the life. And this is all being tampered and it’s been ridiculed. As a Catholic and as a priest, it’s not an issue anymore of politics; it’s an issue between good and evil," he said.
Fondly called Fr. Flavie, Villanueva stressed that "the sacredness of life has to be upheld."
He noted that of the 250 families he is helping, at least 100 had no history of drugs. Additionally, those who died were not doing drugs at the time they were killed, so there is the "element of innocence that should be preserved and should be recognized."
"To help the widows and orphans who have been victimized by the war on drugs is paramount not only as a human being, but more so as the most decent thing to do when someone is belittled, marginalized, or tormented," he said.
The priest has been outspoken against the administration's harsh campaign against illegal drugs and was among those tagged in sedition charges for supposedly plotting to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
Although the case is still ongoing, Villanueva said he doesn't feel threatened because he is "beside the truth."
"When you are beside the truth, when we stand with the truth, then I believe that though (there are) threats, the truth will help us stand strong against any adversities," he said.
"If telling the truth is sedition, if defending life is sedition, then I’m guilty. If defending the truth and seeking the truth is seditious, then perhaps the entire people who speak the truth should also be accused of sedition," he added.
He said although canon law prohibits priests from joining political parties and orders them to be a "uniting voice" especially to those under their care, the Church still "ought to be a voice of what is moral."
Quoting former Ateneo De Manila University President Fr. Jett Villarin, he said: "Kung ang pagbabatayan ay yung Sampung Utos ng Diyos na huwag magnakaw, huwag papatay, at huwag magsisinungaling, dun pa lang makikita na natin, klaro na kung sino at ano ang dapat na maging batayan kung sino ang iboboto sa darating na eleksyon."
(Looking at the 10 Commandments of God, which says don't steal, don't kill, don't lie, we can immediately see, it is very clear who and what should be the basis on who to vote for in the upcoming elections.)