Press Release
April 6, 2019

Dispatch from Crame No. 502:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the three (3) most courageous priests

Around this time of the year, two particular occasions for celebration and reflection come to mind for Filipinos. This Tuesday, April 9, is the commemoration of the Day of Valor, o Araw ng Kagitingan, when we are reminded of the greatness of Filipino fighters who stepped up to fight against the rise and spread of inhumanity and other destructive ideologies during World War II. The following Sunday, April 14, is the celebration of Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of the culmination of Jesus Christ's great suffering in order to save humanity.

Both events remind us that we are here today because there are those who willingly sacrificed themselves, and who knowingly walked towards certain danger, pain and death, not for any self-serving motives, or to prove their manliness and feed their ego, or to gain any worldly reward for themselves, but simply because mankind needed them to do the right thing: to save humanity from both earthly danger and spiritual damnation.

Today, Filipinos are facing both dangers at the same time. This Administration is populated with those who kill their own people's earthly body, and corrupt the spirits and minds of those left behind.

They say that it takes a community to raise a child, but do we know what it takes to rebuild a Filipino society that has been groomed and beguiled to accept that they have no claim to fundamental human rights, and that killers and liars are their rightful rulers?

The answer, to my mind, is hope. Firm and steadfast hope. Hope lives as long as even a few are willing to stand by truth, justice and right.

And I am blessed to know of three brave souls who are fighting to deliver Filipinos from both earthly dangers and spiritual damnation, namely, Fr. Robert Reyes, Fr. Albert Alejo a.k.a. "Paring Bert", and Fr. Flavie Villanueva, all of whom I count as my foremost spiritual advisers and personal friends.

They represent the most courageous among the clergy and most faithful, not just to the teachings, but to the actions, of Jesus Christ. They speak the truth, defend the defenseless and bring messages of love and hope to ailing souls, even when doing so earns them the ire of powerful men; even if they and, in one abhorrent incident, even their mother are threatened.

Fr. Robert represents visible and unabashed courage. He speaks without fear or favor, and has the sheer spunk to explicitly, unambiguously and repeatedly tell Duterte that he doesn't fear him. His is the courage that feeds the spirit.

Paring Bert represents the wise and intellectual aspect of courage. He has the talent to take ordinary, everyday, even tragic and painful experiences and transform them into simple teachings that everyone can understand and apply in our lives. His is the courage that feeds the mind.

Fr. Flavie represents compassionate and empathetic courage. His personal experiences now allow him to connect with the most downtrodden - the homeless, the victims of EJKs - on a deeply personal level of commitment. His is the courage that feeds the heart.

And they continue to impart their own personal brand of courage even in the face of explicit threats to their lives. Just like the great Filipino soldiers and Jesus Christ, they know what needs to be done in order to fight the rise of evil. They know the price could very well be their lives. Yet, they are willing to pay it anyway because they know the reward is incalculable: delivering Filipinos from evil.

God protect them.

News Latest News Feed