A bishop has admitted that Philippine church leaders have failed to educate the conscience of Catholics, especially on social issues. Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan
cited as proof the large number of Catholics who blindly believe the government's claim
that the bloody war on drugs is for law and order. The prelate claims to have received death threats
after criticizing the war against illegal drugs
launched by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. Bishop David said the biggest lie in the anti-narcotics war is its claim that the killings, which have reportedly claimed the lives of about 30,000 people, are meant to eradicate illegal drugs. He said the lies are accompanied by a systematic operation that includes blocking access to justice for families of drug war victims and the use of social media to lay the false foundations for the campaign.
Speaking during a conference in Manila via video from an undisclosed location on April 22 due to "security concerns," Bishop David reminded Filipinos that "truth is not only a political issue." "It is above all a moral issue," he said, adding that "if people can compartmentalize their faith, then [church leaders] failed in education." He said planting false evidence "is not compatible with the [Catholic] faith." He said those who seek truth should go beyond fact-checking and do it as part of a "community of truth seekers." The prelate said the government took advantage of a lack of social media guidelines on ethics and combined it with attacks on church leaders, the media and human rights groups. He said disinformation seems to have become a full-time job in the age of social media in the Philippines. Companies running pages on Facebook, which were recently taken down for using automated bot systems to masquerade as real people, have earned millions of dollars since the 2016 elections. Bishop David said it is wrong to equate vitality with the truth, adding that it is a strategy that plays to the goals of populist strongmen like Duterte. The bishop spoke on the same day the presidential palace released a report accusing media groups and journalists of being part of a conspiracy to oust Duterte. The government report came weeks after unknown groups released on social media a series of videos accusing the family of President Duterte, his aides and allies as the main movers of a narcotics cartel. The videos that went viral on social media have put Duterte and his family on the defensive in the run up to the mid-term election campaign.
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