The national news daily, the Philippine Star, today has this front page main news item: PNP FILES SEDITION RAPS VS LENI, OPPOSITION, BISHOPS. The bishops who are named are: Bishop Pablo Virgilio David (Bishop of the Diocese of Kalookan), Archbishop Socrates Villegas (Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan), Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr. (retired Bishop of the Diocese of Novaliches) and Bishop Honesto Ongtioco (Bishop of the Diocese of Cubao). The police have filed sedition and other criminal charges against them. 

I am very saddened by this news and am greatly disturbed by this development. I know these bishops quite well. I had worked closely with two of them: I functioned as the vice president of Abp. Villegas when he was heading the CBCP, and Bp. David is currently my vice president in the CBCP. 

That they are accused of sedition and other criminal complaints is for me beyond belief. They may be perceived as very vocal and very critical in their pronouncements. But that they consciously worked promoting seditious activities and other related crimes, these honestly I cannot believe. These are individuals whose love for country and dedication for the welfare of our people I cannot doubt. Some of us may feel ill at ease in the way they publicly made known their opinions. But again, I say this, I cannot bring myself to believe that these bishops were involved in seditious activities; they are bishops whose sincerity, decency, respectfulness and love for our country and our people are beyond doubt. 

I always keep my respect and confidence in the people in government who are involved in the processes regarding the cases filed against these bishops. I pray to the Lord for them, that fairness and truth will guide them.

I also pray for my brother bishops; this will be a very distressing situation for them, to say the least. I pray that they may remain calm and confident that in the end, they will be found innocent. I make this prayer to the Lord, with the Blessed Mother as our intercessor. 

Archbishop of Davao
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
19 July 2019