Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has chided Duterte for his desperate bid to besmirch the name of a Catholic prelate, whom many identified as Caloocan Bishop Pablo David, by baselessly accusing the latter of using Church funds for personal use.
De Lima, a devout Catholic, said it is very typical of Mr. Duterte to resort to destroying the good name and reputation of individuals who are critical of his administration's policy every time he tries to silence them.
"Duterte's attack on Bishop Pablo 'Ambo' David is nothing but slanderous. It is vintage Duterte. He destroys the reputation of those who oppose him and those who fight for the victims of his rule," she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 423.
"Bishop Ambo is his latest victim. Aside from tending to the relatives of EJK victims in his diocese, Bishop Ambo drew the ire of Duterte for his rebuke on the President's latest attacks on the Catholic religion and the Church," she added.
In his recent speech in Tanza, Cavite, Duterte, who has consistently released scathing attacks against the Catholic Church and the clergy, said a certain Bishop "David" has stolen Church donations given by the public to offer to his family.
While Duterte did not completely name the said prelate, the public was quick to associate him with David because he is one of the most vocal critics of the President.
On his part, David said the President has probably confused him with someone else because he is the only Bishop "David" in the CBCP. "People who are sick sometimes do not know what they are talking about, so we should just bear with them. My parents never taught me to steal," David wrote on Facebook.
The Senator from Bicol said she remains proud that there are leaders of the Catholic Church, like Bishop David, who continue to have the courage and fortitude to defend the poor from the extra-judicial killings perpetrated by the government.
"He has been successful in condemning the endless killings under Duterte, to the point that he has now become the newest target of Duterte's intrigues, lies, and slanders," she said, calling David as "one of the most respected figures in the Catholic Church."
"It takes a different kind of courage to stand up against the powerful, and a psychotic tyrant at that, and to fight for the powerless. This is the kind of courage that continues to give hope to our people, and by doing so will deliver them from the evil that envelops the country," she added.
The Senator from Bicol urged the Filipino Catholic faithful to stand behind David and all Filipino men and women of courage who remain steadfast in fighting for justice and human rights.