Manila (AsiaNews) Mgr Angel Lagdameo, chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has called on those behind the stories accusing him and five other bishops of involvement in an alleged plot to oust President Arroyo to come forward with their evidence.
Saddened by reports that were "fabricated without proof as to their veracity", the Archbishop of Jaro made an appeal to "the sources of such stories [to] clarify themselves for the sake of the common good".
Two former witnesses to a jueteng (illegal numbers game) scandal, Richard Garcia and Abe Riva, have accused the CBCP chairman, Archbishop Oscar Cruz and Bishops Antonio Tobias, Deogracias Imenez, Julio Labayen and Teodoro Bacani on ABS-CBN's news programme Bandila of involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the Arroyo administration and replace the current president with Senator Panfilo Lacson.
"It is very possible that an accusation is being levelled against the credibility of the bishops, because of our stand on issues which are not pleasant to certain groups," Archbishop Lagdameo said.
The CBCP chairman noted that if he and other bishops spoken against the conduct of anyone person or any group, in favour or against the government, it was for the common welfare of all. "As bishops we always promote peace, non-violent and constitutional means of reform in government," he explained.
For his part, Archbishop Cruz said that "no one can believe the charges of those two, whose credibility is so tainted". And Bishop Bacani added that he was certain that Garcia and Riva's statements are intended to discredit the bishops, but also warned that more allegations are likely to come.