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Panelo dismisses Manila bishop's call to file charges over objection to new anti-terror law

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Tuesday rejected the challenge of Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo to file charges against officials of the Catholic Church in the country.

“It is amusing and disturbing to witness a bishop dare — or pose a challenge for — the government to file a case against them. The manner in which it was hurled seemed to demonstrate hubris and hate on his part. We will simply shrug off such [a] challenge,” Panelo said.

Pursuing such legal action, Panelo said, would only "give them the excuse to decry government suppression, silencing of voices, and weaponization of the law, similar to what detractors and critics recite when they are hailed to court for their transgressions.”

Pabillo made the dare on Monday after Panelo said the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines' latest pastoral letter, which criticizes the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, appears to have violated the principle of the separation of church and state as mandated by the Constitution.

Panelo clarified that the government respects the right of members of the clergy to express their dissent on certain issues even as he maintained that the measure is “pro-life and crafted by legislators precisely to address the evils of terrorism.”

Several petitions seeking to invalidate the new anti-terror law are pending before the Supreme Court. —LDF, GMA News