Bishop Crispin Varquez and the clergy of the Diocese of Borongan pose for a group photo after the Chrism Mass at the Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral July 8. PHOTO FROM BORONGAN CATHEDRAL

Borongan Bishop Calls for Vigilance on Anti-Terror Law in Philippines

Urges Priests to Defend Rights of their Flocks

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A Catholic bishop called on priests to be vigilant against possible abuses in the enforcement of the contentious anti-terrorism law, reported CBCP News.

Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan has added his voice to those concerned about the new law, urging his priests to help protect the basic rights of their flock.

Speaking during the Chrism Mass at the Borongan Cathedral on Wednesday, he stressed that terrorism is “strongly condemned by the Church”.

“But we have to be vigilant against possible abuses in the implementation of the law,” Bishop Varquez said in his homily.

“We have to safeguard the basic human rights of our people because any form of violation would be contrary to God’s law of loving our neighbors,” he said.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that has made the people’s lives even more difficult and more uncertain, he said the new law provides more reason for uncertainty.

Critics of the anti-terror law worry that the vague provisions of the legislation could lead to an abuse in power.

Various groups also asked the Supreme Court to suspend the law, arguing that it threatens human rights.

With the many challenges besetting the nation, Bishop Varquez admitted that the call to exercise their prophetic role remains a “big challenge”.

“As pastors of God’s flock, you should stand ready to protect the innocent and sacrifice ourselves for their earthly well-being as well as for their eternal salvation,” he said.

“With passion, let us continue exercising, doing our priestly, kingly and prophetic roles in the church,” the prelate added.

The annual Chrism Mass is normally held during the Holy Week but the pandemic has forced the country’s dioceses to delay the celebration.

During the liturgy, the priests also renewed their priestly vows, and the oils used to administer sacraments were blessed.

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