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Help quake victims; stop hitting Duterte, Palace tells bishop

Instead of hurling negative rhetoric against the Duterte administration over the controversial war on drugs, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David should help the victims of the recent strong earthquakes, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Palace finds David’s remarks “saddening” amid times of tragedy.

“How saddening that a man of the cloak like Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, who,  instead of focusing his attention to the spiritual needs of his flock as well as helping in the rehabilitation of those affected by the earthquake, has opted to unleash a cynical view if not an outright misrepresentation of the President’s war on drugs saying that ‘the biggest lie is that this drug war is meant to eradicate illegal drugs,’” he said.

“While it is true that we live in a free and democratic country where the contradicting even vicious opinion of a minority is given equal, if not more, space to be heard, there is however a time for reflection, introspection, quietude and the extending of hands to help the needy in times of tragedy and crisis. This is one such time,” he added.

For Panelo, the Caloocan-based bishop, one of the most vocal critics of the President, should heed the advice of Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle to “just give succor to those affected by the recent earthquake instead of resorting to negative rhetoric against the government.”

Even as he acknowledged that David is entitled to his own opinion, the Palace official, however, found the time to justify the government’s relentless crackdown against drugs, stressing that the campaign has curbed drug-related incidents.

“While one is entitled to his own opinion, the truth, however, cannot be removed from the facts obtaining nor can they be altered to form a biased opinion,” Panelo said.

“The facts on how the President addresses the problem of illegal narcotics remain exemplary as they are daring, even as they are relentless. It is only under this Administration where the real situation on illicit drugs in the country has been exposed in all its ugliness and terrifying magnitude,” he added.

The Palace official also mentioned that the majority of Filipinos remained satisfied with the Duterte-backed drug war amid criticisms. According to him, the people’ satisfaction on the campaign has been “consistently resounding.”

Panelo then cited a December 2018 Social Weather Station survey result showing that more than six out of ten Filipinos at 66 percent believed the number of illegal drug users in their area has decreased.

“So far, he said the government’s effective anti-narcotics campaign has resulted in 123,441 operations and dismantling of 309 drug dens and clandestine laboratories,” he noted.

Panelo has cited data that 164,265 drug personalities have been arrested, 9,503 barangays cleared from drugs, and P25.19 billion worth of drugs and equipment have been seized as of November last year.

“These figures are real numbers and unalterable facts that cannot be erased even by the magical wand of Bishop David,” he said.

“We, therefore, suggest to Bishop David to go down from the pulpit and listen to the resounding collective voice of his parishioners that he may find their true and genuine sentiments,” he added.

Topics: Salvador Panelo , Pablo Virgilio David , war on drugs , earthquake
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