MANILA, Philippines – The power of prayer remains the strongest weapon of the 4 bishops who have been accused of sedition by the Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas released their fraternal message to the media on Saturday, September 7.
The bishops, who have criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs in the past, said they have begged off from interviews and refused to attend rallies when they learned the CIDG had filed a sedition complaint against them. (READ: CBCP president: Sedition allegations vs bishops 'beyond belief’)
They said they chose to pray instead.
“Prayer is our best weapon against every evil. Prayer is power. This is a good time to be reminded of this. We prayed instantly, even until now, for our accusers. May they meet the God of all Truths, be touched by His grace, and stay away from the prince of lies,” they said.
They also invited Peter Joemel Advincula of the viral Bikoy videos to “turn back to God whose offer of mercy and forgiveness is without limits.”
The CIDG based its complaint on the affidavit of the flip-flopping Advincula who, in a series of videos that circulated online, initially accused Duterte, his son and Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte, Senator Bong Go, and others of having links to the illegal drug trade.
Apart from the 4 bishops, the CIDG sued key figures of the opposition, including Vice President Leni Robredo and lawmakers who are members or are allied with the once-ruling Liberal Party.
In their fraternal message, the accused bishops said they have been “praying fervently” for the team of prosecutors tasked to evaluate their sedition case.
“May they be guided by nothing but the spirit of justice and truth. There can be no justice without truth. Justice without facts is no justice at all. We cling to the belief that our officials in the Department of Justice adhere to these values,” said the bishops.
They then thanked all their supporters who have offered them “prayers, sacrifices, and legal assistance.” (READ: Ecumenical groups condemn sedition charges vs bishops, priests)
Despite the sedition complaint they are facing, Bacani, Ongtioco, David, and Villegas vowed to continue serving their flock.
“This cross we carry now is nothing compared to the agony and passion of the Lord and the pains and aches of the poor. Our defense for human life and the sacredness of marriage remains. Our message of peace based on truth will not be perturbed. Our zeal for souls will not falter,” said the bishops.
“Our mission is yet incomplete. We will not be discouraged,” they added. – Rappler.com