Diocese of San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza | FILE PHOTO

A Roman Catholic bishop called the hosts of the program of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) to “a prayerful discernment and a peaceful dialogue for truth and love” amid the program hosts’ red-tagging accusations..

In a pastoral letter released Monday, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said that he is concerned with the “strong statements” made by the hosts of SMNI’s commentary program “Laban ng Masa” against church workers and peace advocates who are calling for the resumption of peace talks between the government and rebel groups.

“I am therefore inviting all sectors, most especially the SMNI program hosts, to a prayerful discernment and a peaceful dialogue for truth and love,” the bishop said.

“As a pastor in the Negros island, and of the Church of the Poor in the Philippines, the word of the Lord emboldens me to serve the poor and to be in solidarity with the lost, the least and the last.,” Alminaza added.

On Monday’s episode of Laban ng Masa, program host Jeffrey Celiz claimed that the Church has been infiltrated by the Communist Party of the Philippines, the National Democratic Front and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Celiz also claimed that the CPP-NPA-NDF is “using the church to promote propaganda,” adding that a church bureau of the rebel group is hiding within the offices of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) in Quezon City.

The NCCP is “an ecumenical fellowship of non-Roman Catholic denominations in the Philippines”, according to its website.

Former anti-insurgency undersecretary and spokesperson Lorraine Badoy also claimed that the “phony” peace talks pushed for by Alminaza “is to prolong an already impossibly prolonged and protracted war.”

Both Celiz and Badoy did not offer any evidence to back up their accusations.

Alminaza had previously admonished SMNI for labeling his advocacy “diabolical and demonic.”

“As this TV program continues to malign and even invoke vicious threats against the work of church-people, bishops and pastors, dedicated activists, and ordinary persons—we should never be afraid, but rather be brave in speaking for the truth on behalf of the victims of injustice,” he said. Czyrish Aubrey Conopio