A Catholic bishop in the Philippines called on church leaders in the country to “amplify the prophetic voice” against what he described as a “rising tyrannical rule.”
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, said church people must “bring out our prophetic voice while waiting for more people to speak out.”
The prelate made the statement during an online forum on the human rights situation in the country organized by the Promotion of Church People’s Response in Australia.
Bishop Pabillo said the Philippines is now under a “time of tyranny and dictatorship” that is being “hidden in the guise of populism.”
He accused President Rodrigo Duterte of using his populist image to make the public believe that he is saving them from the oppression of the elites.
“The idea of populism, which is not only happening in the Philippines, is blinding the public by propaganda aimed to hide the real face of tyranny,” said the Manila prelate.
He said the present administration is using the power of social media “to confuse” the masses by attacking dissenters and people who speak truth to power.
Bishop Pabillo urged the public to be patient because the country has to undergo “the process of conscientization” and “allow more voices to speak out.”
He said it took 14 years before the country ousted former president Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, which ended a dictatorship that started in 1972.
“Now, we are dreaming that we can somehow do again what happened in 1986 when there was a strong voice of the Church, a generous response from the people, and the support of the military,” said Bishop Pabillo.
He said the 1986 “people power” uprising happened after a long process of “conscientization.”
“In the beginning, it was timid. It was doubting. There were some progressive but many were very conservative bishops,” he said.
“Only a few prophetic voices started to speak up,” he said, adding that eventually the time came for various forces to come together.
“We are impatient that the Church is not speaking out enough,” he noted.
“We are impatient that the people are not going to the streets, that there is still a lot of support for Duterte,” he added.
“We also have to undergo a process of making people realize so that we can arrive at that mature state that people can come out as one,” said Bishop Pabillo.