Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (File photo)
MANILA – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Monday called out Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo, asking him to stay out of politics.
Panelo made his call after Pabillo, in his homily during a mass at the San Felipe Neri Parsh in Mandaluyong City on Sunday, said it is “saddening” that the government is seemingly preoccupied with the death penalty and not showing a convincing way of addressing the surging coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country.
In response, Panelo quoted Pope John Paul II: “You are priests, not social or political leaders. Let us not be under the illusion that we are serving the Gospel through an exaggerated interest in the wide field of temporal problems.”
He said Pabillo and other members of the clergy should instead focus on praying.
“Siguro concentrate nalang siguro kayo sa pagpapagaling ninyo at saka yung mga pagdarasal (Perhaps, you should just focus on getting better and prayer),” he said in his commentary show “Counterpoint” aired on state-run PTV-4.
Last month, Pabillo bared that he tested positive for Covid-19 but was asymptomatic.
According to Panelo, church leaders should also remind the public to observe quarantine protocols such as physical distancing, wearing face masks and face shields, and frequent handwashing.
Panelo earlier accused the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) of using its religious influence to pressure the Supreme Court to decide against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
This after the CBCP expressed support for petitions questioning the controversial law, especially how it was “fast-tracked” in Congress while Filipinos were grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said CBCP appeared to have violated the doctrine of the separation of the church and state as mandated by the 1987 Constitution.
“Such advocacy, coupled with its call to its faithful followers to prayer, effectively exerts religious influence or pressure on the Supreme Court to decide against a national law designed to combat the global crime of terrorism and to secure the safety of the Filipino people,” Panelo said in a statement.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), renewed his call for Congress to pass a measure restoring the death penalty for heinous crimes including those linked to illegal drugs.
“This will not only help us deter criminality but also save our children from the dangers posed by the illegal and dangerous drugs,” Duterte said.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives, however, vowed to prioritize measures to address the Covid-19 pandemic over deliberations on the death penalty bill. (PNA)