By William Casis i FilAm Star Correspondent
Opposition Sen. Leila De Lima on November 26, took the cudgels for the bishop who was verbally attacked by President Rodrigo Duterte, even accusing him of stealing Church offerings to bring to his own family.
“Duterte’s attack on Bishop Pablo ‘Ambo’ David is nothing but slanderous,” stressed De Lima.
“It is vintage Duterte. He destroys the reputation of those who oppose him and those who fight for the victims of his rule. Ambo is his latest victim,” added the Senator, who is one of the staunchest critics of Duterte.
Without properly identifying the bishop he was referring to, Duterte strongly criticized a certain “Bishop David,” for believing in an “archaic” faith and engaging in the corrupt practice of asking cars or favors from the government, among others.
He taunted that the “archaic” church was only good at making money.
“The Catholic Church and Bishop David is clinging to a belief 3,000 years ago,” the President said. “How can people 3,000 years ago predict what is happening today?”
“And you have the balls (to criticize), brave as you are, to ask for cars from the government?” he asked.
In further attacking David, the President also said he was beginning to suspect why the Bishop was allegedly frequently roaming around at night.
“I suspect that you could be involved in drugs,” said Duterte. “Bishop, if you are selling drugs, I’ll have your head cut off,” he warned but did not mention if he was also referring to David.
The President had earlier accused a certain “Bishop David” of taking money from donations to benefit his family.
This prompted Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David to respond to Duterte’s attacks, saying he was the only “Bishop David” in their ranks and the President was obviously alluding to him because he has been vocal about his bloody war in illegal drugs.
“People who are sick sometimes do not know what they are talking about, so we should just bear with them,” he lashed back at Duterte who also said some “demonic” bishop are keeping their mistresses in the NHA housing.
But De Lima said David, whom she called “Bishop Ambo” is one of the most respected figures in the Catholic Church.
“He is also a dutiful shepherd of his flock, doing all that is within his power to protect them amidst the murderous onslaught of Duterte’s drug war that has left a lot of children orphans. He has been successful in condemning the endless killings under Duterte, to the point that he has now become the newest target of Duterte’s intrigues, lies, and slanders,” said De Lima.
“As a Catholic, I am proud that there are leaders of the Catholic Church, like Bishop Ambo, who continue to have the courage and fortitude to defend the poor from the extra-judicial killings perpetrated by the government,” she said.
“It takes a different kind of courage to stand up against the powerful, and a psychotic tyrant at that, and to fight for the powerless. This is the kind of courage that continues to give hope to our people, and by doing so will deliver them from the evil that envelops the country,” she further stated.
“We must all stand behind Bishop Ambo, and all Filipino men and women of courage who remain steadfast for all of us, bearing the hope that one day this darkness too shall end,” added the Senator who has been detained at Camp Crame over what she claims are trumped-up drug charges.
Aside from tending to the relatives of extra-judicial killings (EJK) victims in his diocese, she noted that Bishop Ambo drew the ire of Duterte for his rebuke on the President’s latest attacks on the Catholic religion and the Church.
As this developed, Duterte called on parishioners to just build their own chapel in their houses and stop going to church.
Duterte has been known to ridicule prelates and the teachings of the Catholic Church.