Bishop David says he refused Bikoy's request for church sanctuary

MANILA, Philippines – Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said he refused the request of Peter Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy for church sanctuary as he denied accusations of participating in an alleged plot to bring down the Duterte administration through the viral Bikoy videos.

Advincula said in his affidavit that Jesuit priest Albert Alejo accompanied him to the bishop's residence in Caloocan on February 9 as part of the supposed Project Sodoma to bring down Duterte. 

David confirmed he met Advincula on February 9 but denied the circumstances and other details.

David said in his counter affidavit that Alejo had requested to meet with him, and that meeting happened in the morning of February 9. With Alejo was Advincula, whom David described as "a chubby bespectacled young man."

"Fr Alejo briefly told me the life of the man he was with at that time was in danger, that the drug syndicate he used to work with was after him, and that he needed sanctuary," David said.

David said Advincula struck him "as a glib-talker." (READ: Bikoy vs Bikoy: The biggest flip-flops of the government's star witness)

"The word 'drug syndicate' immediately came across as a warning signal to me. I told him that while the Church indeed sometimes provide sanctuary to people who feel their lives are in danger, so far, we have only provided help to crime witnesses, not to people who have been involved in crimes themselves," David said.

David added that he told Alejo to "seek help from people who might be in a better position to help deal with the man's alleged situation."

"I whispered to him to better check first on the veracity of the man's story who came and left as a total stranger to me. It did not interest me to know more about his identity especially when Fr Alejo told me the man had a security issue," David said.

David said he only came to know about the "chubby man's identity" when Advincula introduced himself as Bikoy in a press conference, before he totally turned the tables on the Jesuit priests and the opposition.

Bishops and priests in the case

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, also a respondent in the inciting to sedition complaint like David, said he also met Advincula once but on a different date than what was stated in Bikoy's affidavit.

Villegas said he met Advincula inside the Jesuit residence in Ateneo as part of his priestly ministry.

Advincula made inconsistent claims in his affidavit regarding the February 9 meeting with David. First he said that opposition senator Antonio Trillanes IV was in the meeting, and later changed it so that Trillanes only supposedly called Alejo through Protonmail. Protonmail is a secure email service that has no call feature.

"Contrary to the accusations levelled against me, I will be the last to resort to any kind of activity designed to undermine the administration or oust the duly elected officials of government," David said.

David has earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte for the former's statements against killings in the so-called war on drugs.

Another respondent in the sedition case is Bishop Teodoro Bacani, but Advincula did not specify the bishop's alleged participation, only that he is supposedly part of Project Sodoma's "shadow group." (READ: Meet the lawyers fighting Bikoy's sedition complaint)

"I fully trust that the prosecutors will see how nonsensical and baseless Bikoy's accusations against me are, and would, I humbly submit, find merit in dismissing charges against me and spare me from the torment and expense of a public trial," Bacani said in his counter-affidavit.

The next hearing at the Department of Justice is on September 6. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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