The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Friday called on  parishes nationwide to pray for clergymen accused by authorities of inciting to sedition.

Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles made the appeal in a letter to dioceses across the country, ahead of the Aug. 9 preliminary investigation of the charges filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Let us be in solidarity with them in prayer. Let us invite our priests, our religious, our people to join us in this solidarity in prayer,” he said.

Valles instructed parishes to offer Masses on Aug. 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration, and Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, for the accused clergymen.

“Let us pray for them, include them in our reflection and homilies, in the prayers of the faithful,” he said.

Accused of inciting to sedition were Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, Teodoro Bacani, the retired Novaliches bishop, and three priests.

The complaint was filed by the PNP against opposition figures and the clergymen over a supposed conspiracy to spread videos of the hooded whistleblower “Bikoy” linking President Rodrigo Duterte and his family and associates to illegal drugs.

The accusations were based on the testimony of an ex-convict, Peter Advincula, who claimed to be Bikoy and had sought the protection of priests and bishops.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has also released a special prayer for church leaders “persecuted and falsely accused,” to be recited in all Sunday Masses in Manila this August. (