MANILA, Philippines – The head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) appealed for justice, not vengeance, after President Rodrigo Duterte's fiercest critic was arrested Friday morning, February 24.
"We beg the Lord to pour forth upon us the passion not for vengeance but for justice," CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said.
Villegas issued the statement a few minutes after Senator Leila de Lima surrendered to the police shortly past 8 am on Friday.
"Following the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima, we turn to God in fervent prayer to heal our land," Villegas said.
"Let all who have been charged be accorded their fair day in the court of laws," he added.
Villegas also prayed for "the truth that sets all of us free," and called for "the reign of charity" in the Philippines. "Mercy without justice is weakness. Justice without love is tyranny," he said.
Villegas also said, "It is unchristian to find secret pleasure in the sufferings of others."
De Lima faces charges for her alleged links to the illegal drug trade, but the senator denounced these accusations as the President's political vendetta.
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.