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De Lima defends Jesuit priest tagged in Duterte ouster plot

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Detained Senator Leila de Lima has stood firmly behind Jesuit priest Albert Alejo amid allegations that he was part of the opposition’s efforts to oust President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies.

Peter Joemel Advincula, who claimed to be Bikoy in the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos, on May 22 recanted his allegation that some of Duterte’s relatives and allies receive payola money from drug syndicates.

Advincula alleged that the Liberal Party, led by Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV were behind the making of the videos to besmirch the reputation of the Dutertes.

Advincula also claimed that it was Alejo who introduced him to Trillanes. Alejo is fondly called by his friends as “Paring Bert,” according to De Lima.

De Lima, who counts Alejo as one of her spiritual advisers and personal friend, described him as “someone who is willing to sacrifice himself and his safety to uncover the truth and save Filipinos from imminent danger.”

“Paring Bert is yet to speak up on this allegation against him, that’s why I find it unfair that he is painted in a bad light as he continuously fights for what is true and just,” the opposition senator said.

De Lima said that “it is grossly unfair to paint Fr. Alejo as among the enemies of the state because he has dedicated his life defending the powerless and fighting against any form of abuses.”

“Sa panahon ngayon kung kailan ginigipit at kinokontrol ng gobyerno ang mga ahensya at institusyon na dapat sana’y nangangalaga at nagtatanggol sa karapatan ng mamamayan, saan nga ba maaaring humingi ng tulong at proteksyon ang mga indibidwal na nangangamba para sa kanilang buhay?” she asked.

She said that “it is the moral duty of men of the Church to give assistance to individuals seeking their refuge, especially those who fear for their lives.”

“Si Fr. Alejo ay maaaring isa lamang din sa mga biktima ng mga kasinungalingan ni ‘Bikoy’ pero hindi ito dahilan para sisihin ang mga alagad ng Simbahan katulad niya kung ipatupad man nila ang kanilang obligasyon sa kapwa na humihingi ng gabay at kalinga,” she added.

“Although Fr. Alejo has yet to speak up on the issue, the Jesuit Community in the Philippines has vouched for the former’s integrity even as it cried foul over claims that the priest was supposedly involved in plans to discredit Duterte and his allies,” De Lima said.

De Lima said that the only way to determine the truth both about Advincula and his narrative was to use “reason and discernment” and “digging deeper.”

The senator from Bicol earlier clarified that she and her staff members have nothing to do with the so-called ‘Bikoy’ expose, saying “none of us knows ‘Bikoy’ or has ever met or talked to him, or otherwise dealt with him.”

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