“No threat or intimidation can stop me from carrying on with my spiritual and pastoral duties,” says the bishop of Caloocan, a harsh critic of Duterte's controversial war on drugs, and the victim in recent months of the president’s unproven accusations.
Manila (AsiaNews) – Mgr Pablo Virgilio Siongco David (pictured), bishop of Caloocan and vice president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has confirmed that he received death threats two weeks ago, "But I don’t know who they are coming from,” he said.
The case came to light on Sunday, a little less than three months before the country’s mid-term general elections on 13 May, when President Rodrigo Duterte – known for his verbal attacks against the Catholic Church – suddenly changed his tune at an event in Cebu City.
“Do not touch the priests, they had nothing to do with politics,” the president said. “Either Muslims or Christians, they had nothing to do with us,” he added. “Do not do it. Do not try to do it. Ang (The) religious [leaders] had nothing to do with the vagaries of life. Lay off! Stop threatening them or ako ang makakalaban ninyo (you will have to face me).”
During the rally, Duterte quoted part of a letter he received from Card Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila.
In it, the prelate mentions death threats against Bishop David and some priests from “someone claiming to be working for the president’s family.” ".
Duterte did not say who Bishop David was, but most people realised that the reference was about the bishop of Caloocan.
Mgr Pablo David has been a harsh critic of the president’s war on drugs, whose death toll has surpassed 20,000 since Duterte took office in 2016.
In recent months, the bishop has been the victim of unproven accusations made by Duterte, such as stealing donations and involvement in drug trafficking.
On CbcpNews, when asked if the death threats are tied to his campaign against drug killings, David said, “your guess is as good as mine”.
Still, he added, “No threat or intimidation can stop me from carrying on with my spiritual and pastoral duties as a bishop”.