Father Flavie Villanueva, a renowned critic of the President, who has frequently received death threats for his opposition to the war on drugs, has been charged with ‘conspiracy to commit sedition’, along with 10 others over an alleged plot to remove President Duterte.
The charge was brought against Villanueva for his involvement in a series of viral videos that ‘tarnished’ the President’s reputation.
Since his election in June 2016, President Duterte’s war on drugs has claimed the lives of 5,900 people – 92 police and military and over 5,800 drug dealers and users.
From the get-go, Villanueva once a substance abuser himself, has been an open critic of the policy. Known as Father Flavie to his parishioners, the Manila priest, who runs the St Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center for Manila’s poor and homeless, offers comfort and counsel to those affected by the drug war.
‘If you come, you will hear how mothers how fathers have been victimised. There are truly thousands who have fallen victim to this campaign, especially the impoverished.’
His message is simple: ‘killing is not the solution’.
‘If being seditious means providing care and sanctuary for those who have been left behind by the fake drug war, then I accept that I am guilty of sedition. But obviously I don’t find replaced the halos in anything seditious about helping a brother and sister.’
Duterte who has bashed the Church and its leaders for being corrupt, going so far, in one public appearance, as to say bishops should be killed in one public appearance.