Otso Diretso bets call on administration to take death threats received by priest seriously

By Alexandria San Juan

Senatorial bets of opposition slate Otso Diretso called on the administration on Wednesday to take seriously the death threats received recently by Catholic priests allegedly for their criticism on President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war.

“I call on the government not to take these threats lightly but rather do everything within their power and find out who are responsible with the threats, identify these persons, and as much as possible, put a stop to them,” human rights lawyer Chel Diokno said in a press conference at the Liberal Party Headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City Wednesday.

(L-R) Otso Diretso senatorial bets Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Pilo Hilbay, and Romy Macalintal (SCREENSHOT / OTSO DIRETSO / FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)
(L-R) Otso Diretso senatorial bets Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Pilo Hilbay, and Romy Macalintal (SCREENSHOT / OTSO DIRETSO / FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

The senatorial candidate made the statement a day after Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said that these threats might probably came from pranksters, anti-Duterte trolls, or enemies of the priests.

“Ako po ay talagang nababahala sa mga nangyayaring pagbabanta. Seryoso po ito. Hindi pwedeng sabihin ng pamahalaan na joke lang yan,” Diokno said.

On Monday, three more Catholic priests, Fathers Robert Reyes, Albert Alejo, and Flavie Villanueva, bared they recently received text messages saying they are being watched and that they will be killed if they do not “coordinate.”

These threats, which include curses, were also received by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David.

Diokno added that the administration has an obligation to trace where these threats are coming from.

Meanwhile, lawyer Pilo Hilbay explained that people are comfortably making death threats as the intimidation on the Catholic Church even came from the President.

“Nandoon tayo sa sitwasyon kung saan yung pagrerequest ng tulong sa mga pari might even be a problem dahil yung pananakot sa simbahan ay nanggagaling din mismo sa ating Presidente,” he said.

“That makes it easier for a lot of people to make threats,” Hilbay added.

For his part, former election lawyer Romy Macalintal urged all Christians to defend ther faith and fight for their Church.

“Nananawagan ako sa mga Katoliko, patunayan natin na mayroon tayong Catholic hope. Patunayan natin na kaya nating ipaglaban ang ating simbahan,” he said.

 
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