"I couldn't go out for biking, running, walking due to security concerns," Fr. Picardal said.
A Catholic priest who has been an outspoken critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has gone into hiding out of fear that he may have become a target of motorcycle-riding hit men, reported CBS News.
Fr. Amado Picardal, was an early critic of Duterte’s war on drugs that has reportedly left more than 4,500 suspects dead since the president took office in 2016. Picardal told CBS that he has gone into a “more secure location.”
“I couldn’t go out for biking, running, walking due to security concerns,” Picardal told CBS.
“I have left my hermitage in the mountain and transferred to a more secure location to continue my life as a hermit far away out of reach from the death squad,” he said.
While assigned in Davao, Philippines, where Duterte served as mayor before his election to the presidency, Picardel said that he helped compile a report on the extrajudicial killings that had taken place there between 1998 and 2015.
“This is most likely one of the reasons that I am being targeted by the death squad,” Picardal said according to the CBS report.
Catholic leaders in the Philippines have been some of the most vocal critics of Duterte’s deadly war on drugs, and in recent months the Philippines strongman has lashed out publicly at the Catholic Church.
In a televised speech in June, Duterte ridiculed Catholic doctrine, saying, “Who is this stupid God? This son of a b**** is then really stupid.”
Three priests have been murdered in the last eight months, and in response to accusations that Duterte’s regime may have been responsible, Duterte denied any involvement, and put the blame on the murdered priests themselves.
“If you are a priest, and you have an affair with the wife of a soldier or a mayor, you will really die,” said Duterte, according to a report in ABS-CBN News. He also said that priests are “no better than me,” adding, “some priests have two wives.”