By Roy Lagarde
July 19, 2020
The country’s Catholic bishops have come out strongly against the Duterte administration on Sunday, criticizing the nation’s “bleak political landscape”.
In a two-page pastoral letter, they lamented a litany of issues besetting the country including the continued killings, red-tagging and intimidation of government critics.
They also lamented the recent shutdown of broadcast network ABS-CBN and “harassment” of media critics.
“Is it not evident to us how this pattern of intimidation creates an atmosphere detrimental to the freedom of expression in our country?” the bishops said.
While saying that a semblance of democracy is still in place, the bishops used a famous analogy to warn the country of more troubling times ahead.
“We are already like the proverbial frog swimming in a pot of slowly boiling water,” they said.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) made the statement around a week before President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address.
The church leaders particularly condemned Duterte’s controversial new anti-terrorism law, which took effect on Saturday.
The bishops said they are still in “disbelief” about the manner in which the measure was “fast-tracked” and approved in Congress while the country is reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The dissenting voices were strong but they remained unheeded,” they said.
Among other things, the law allows warrantless detention and wiretapping of people the government deems as terrorists.
The CBCP also threw its support behind efforts to question the enactment of the law in the high court.
“We draw consolation from the groups of lawyers and ordinary citizens that have filed petitions before the Supreme Court, questioning the constitutionality of the newly signed law,” the bishops said.