Bishop Jose Elmer Mangalinao of the Diocese of Bayombong called on the faithful to be “vigilant” in the face of what he described as “threats to our democracy.”
The prelate made the statement in a pastoral letter released on July 14, saying that “silence and indifference have no place” in the current situation of the country.
Bishop Mangalinao was reacting to the recent passage of the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020, which he described as a threat to basic human rights and democracy.
He said he understands and supports the government’s programs against terrorism “but I will never support a law that will endanger the freedom and rights of the people.”
Together with his priests, the Catholic bishop decried the law, saying it is “prone to abuse” and “threatens our undeniable rights and freedom of expression, of speech, and due process of law.”
He also condemned the Philippine Congress for denying the renewal of the broadcast franchise of television network ABS-CBN.
The bishop said the closure of the media giant “affects many Filipinos in remote areas” who rely on the network for news and information.
Bishop Mangalinao urged the faithful in his diocese “to be unified not to allow an unjust system to silence our voices and to take away our basic human rights.”
“Christ has fought for us, it is our turn to use our voices to speak and to defend the truth,” he said.
“We need to fight for our freedom especially for those who cannot speak for themselves,” said the prelate.