Bishop denies involvement with plot to oust Duterte

CBCP President Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas | Photo courtesy of CBCP

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Thursday, June 6 denied being in a meeting with people allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The archbishop’s defense comes after Peter Joemel Advincula, the man who introduced himself as “Bikoy” in the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” video, spread those claims.

According to Villegas’ statement released on Thursday,  he was delivering a homily during the time specified in Advincula’s affidavit.

“On the day and time, Dec. 12, 2018 in the evening that I allegedly met with some plotters to overthrow the government, I was in the parish church of Orani in Bataan to deliver the homily at the first mass of a friend, a newly ordained priest,” the statement read.

Villegas also stressed that he had “no capacity to be in two places at the same time.”

To back up his statement, he reposted on Facebook the video of Rev. Fr. Jersey Prepose’s Thanksgiving Mass on Dec. 12, 2018 at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Orani.

Villegas stated that he is a priest and his mission is “to continue the love of Jesus Christ and to teach His truth always.”

He added that he believes in the power of electing officials, which was why he tried his best “as a priest and as a Filipino to morally guide the people entrusted to my pastoral care.”

The bishop further said that he cannot and will never lend a hand in using illegal or violent means for social change as this will only “weaken our democratic foundations.” He also said that that kind of action is contrary to his Christian conscience.

Villegas is the former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He was included in the personalities that Advincula identified were at the Jesuit Residence of the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City on Dec. 12, 2018 for “Project Sodoma” — supposedly a plot hatched by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV to oust Duterte and put Vice President Leni Robredo as the country’s next chief executive.

More denials

Caloocan Bishop Pablo David also denied Advincula’s claim about him meeting Trillanes at his parish on February 9 this year.

On his Facebook account he posted, “Last Monday, ‘Bikoy’ appeared in another press conference sponsored by the PNP (Philippine National Police) claiming that he had attended a meeting with me and Senator Trillanes and a certain Jonel at my residence in Caloocan City.”

“First of all, I wish to make it clear that I have never had the privilege of meeting with Senator Trillanes in person and I do not know the Jonel he was talking about,” he continued.

David, the current CBCP vice president, called for the police to shift its focus on solving the incidents of extrajudicial killings instead of wasting time and effort to prove Advincula’s allegations.

“As far as I know, most of the thousands of killings called DUI (Death Under Investigation) remain ‘under investigation’, meaning unresolved,” he pointed out in his post.

David further noted the strangeness in the PNP’s actions because people had called Advincula a “liar” when the people he implicated are reportedly “close to the president.”

“Now that he has changed his story and is implicating practically all personalities in the opposition — insinuating that he had merely been used by them in a supposedly well-orchestrated plot to unseat the government — ‘his truth’ (according to the PNP director) needs to be investigated,” David added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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