A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippines urged the faithful to be more vigilant when it comes to social issues during the pandemic.
“Let us continue to be vigilant even as we struggle with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bishop Raul Dael of Tandag in a pastoral letter this week.
He said people must continue to fight for their rights and practice social justice while social distancing.
“Let us not allow ourselves to be complacent regarding social realities and political issues,” he said.
The bishop warned of the impact of the country’s new anti-terrorism law, which faces legal challenges before the Supreme Court.
Bishop Dael said the Church and the people of good will abhor terrorism and want a law that truly provides order, security, and wellbeing of the nation.
He said, however, that a counter-terrorism measure that is “vague and contrary to the Constitution” must be opposed.
“This is what we are hoping that our Justices in the Supreme Court will do,” said the prelate.
“If anyone innocent becomes a victim of this anti-terrorism law, the Church cannot remain a mere observer but an active witness for the pursuit of truth and justice,” he said.
Human rights activists said the new law, which took effect on July 18 this year, can be a weapon to target government critics and and stifle free speech.
Bishop Dael called on the government to look at dissenting opinions as an opportunity to find better and more integral solutions for lasting peace.
“A healthy and stable government allows dissent because dissent purifies opinion and guides leadership,” said the prelate.