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Take death threats seriously Philippine priests told

MANILA (UCAN): “I became a target of an assassination attempt by a death squad,” said Redemptorist Father Amado Picardal, who said he was fortunate because he received advance information about the plot. He said that his life has been in danger since he criticised killings linked to the deadly war on drugs of the administration of president, Rodrigo Duterte.
 
The priest, who relocated in fear for his life, warned fellow priests to take threats seriously but not to be cowed from speaking the truth.
 
“I am not afraid to die but I will not make it easy for them to kill me,” he said.
 
It was reported on March 12 that three Filipino priests claimed to have received death threats for criticising Duterte’s policies.
 
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, has also reported receiving threats after speaking out against killings in his diocese (Sunday Examiner, March 10).
 
“I hope that there will be more bishops willing to risk their life for their flock,” Father Picardal said.
 
He described the threats as a “manifestation of the evil that reigns in society.”
 
Asked what the Church should do in the face of such threats, Father Picardal said it should “vigorously exercise its prophetic mission.”
 
He said there is a need to “awaken the conscience of people and society” as the Church should be a “beacon of hope” and “act towards the transformation of society.”
 
Earlier, the Diocese of Cubao in Metro Manila, expressed concern over threats received by several priests.
 
“These threats to the lives of our shepherds are not empty nor unfounded,” said Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, adding that this situation demands a “witness to our faith ... to be prophets and speak against all kinds of injustice.”
 
Meanwhile Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said, “Even with threats or offensive words, we priests must be firm in our Catholic faith, and faithful to our calling.”
 
He added, “As priests, our lives are for the Church, for God’s people. This is our calling, we just fulfill God’s call,” he added.
 
In a statement made after it was revealed that several priests had received threats, Duterte said he did not care if priests ended up getting killed.

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