The presidential palace today rebuked a Catholic bishop for calling President Benigno Aquino "not worthy" to lead the country. Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan
on Thursday also said groups are "preparing" for Aquino's ouster. Aquino's spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, however, said the prelate is "a conspirator in a cassock" and a "petty politician." Lacierda said Bishop Pueblos is an ally of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
, a political rival of the Aquino administration. Lacierda accused the bishop of opposing attempts by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines
to discern the moral culpability of Arroyo on alleged cheating during the 2004 elections. "This is a prelate who has substituted the proud record of his diocese... for the partisan ramblings of a petty politician," Lacierda said. He urged the bishop to refer to the "Doctrinal Note
" issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on questions of participation by Catholics in political life. "It is not the Church's task to set forth specific political solutions... to temporal questions that God has left to the free and responsible judgment of each person," Lacierda quoted the "Note" as saying. Bishop Pueblos was earlier quoted as saying that Aquino should resign for appointing friends and allies to government posts. "He is not really worthy to be a president. That job is not for him. The earlier he will be out of his post, the better it will be for the Philippines," Bishop Pueblos was quoted as saying in a radio interview. Senator Franklin Drilon
said Bishop Pueblos is the "least credible person" to ask for Aquino's resignation. The senator said he was "appalled by the gall of Bishop Pueblos to call for the resignation of president Aquino who is only doing his best to institute reforms in government."