The Department of Justice has exonerated four Catholic bishops from a case that accused them of plotting to overthrow the Duterte administration, described by many as intimidation against government critics.

The DOJ ruled that the bishops showed no intention of committing sedition and that the complaints filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group lack evidence.

The bishops cleared of the charges are Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Bishops Pablo Virgilio David, Honesto Ongtioco and Teodoro Bacani, including Fr. Robert Reyes and La Salle Bro. Armin Luistro.

The sedition case and other charges stemmed from a viral video accusing President Duterte and his family of the illegal drug trade.

The DOJ, however, recommended the filing of charges against priests Fr. Albert Alejo and Fr. Flaviano Villanueva and nine others for their supposed involvement in a plot to oust President Duterte.

The church leaders have repeatedly said that they will not join any action through violent and illegal means. 

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has come to the defense of the accused prelates, saying the allegations were “beyond belief”. (CBCPNews)