POSTSCRIPT / June 24, 2018 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Duterte rants on, calls God stupid!

WHAT has come over President Rodrigo Duterte that, without provocation, he aimed for the very top and called God “stupid” on the basis of his limited understanding of the biblical story of the Creation?

Is he running out of targets in his anti-Catholic Church rant so he picks a quarrel with God himself? Good luck to Duterte.

In 2015 he lambasted Pope Francis just because his visit slowed down traffic while Duterte was on the road. Lately he has been denouncing priests for what he said is their hypocrisy, and giving out copies of a book on alleged indiscretions of members of the clergy.

In Davao City on Friday, he told a crowd his story of Adam and Eve who he said were tempted by a snake with an apple, leading to “original sin” that he said was unfair to their descendants.

His version: “Kinain ni Adam, then malice was born. Who is this stupid God? Istupido talaga itong putangina kung ganoon…. You created something perfect and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work.”

On original sin: “Tsuk-tsak lang ‘yun ng nanay pati tatay mo, wala ka pang kasali tapos ngayon may original sin ka! Tanginang klase – anong klaseng relihiyon ‘yan? ‘Yan ang hindi ko matanggap. What a stupid proposition!”

In his recent visit to South Korea, Duterte related the same Adam and Eve story June 3 to a crowd of Filipinos, telling them that: “Kung ’yan ang Diyos ng Katoliko, torpe ‘yan!”

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas reacted: “The list of cuss words against God is endless. God is still God and those who have cursed Him are now dust.”

He urged the faithful to pray for those who teach error and to forgive them, saying: “They might be insane or possessed. They need God. They need your prayers and love and compassion.”

 Cursing in public isn’t the norm yet

WE CANNOT accept the new gospel being peddled by Duterte followers that cursing in public discourse or making sexist innuendos in speeches, as he is wont to do, is now acceptable, that it is the new norm.

The observation made days ago by education experts that the President’s cursing is influencing impressionable youngsters has unleashed a swarm of trolls in social media ridiculing the word of caution of the elders.

This newspaperman may have grown jaded over the years, but still cannot accept that it is all right for the President of the Republic to spew profanities and disrespectful remarks about women in his rambling speeches.

Sister Mary John Mananzan, former St. Scholastica’s College president, may have summed up the concern of many elders about Duterte’s public cursing when she said in a forum: “Because he is President, he should not speak like that. Masyadong (malaki) ang impluwensya.”

It must be clarified, however, that Duterte is not being blamed for some youngsters’ catching the cursing habit. But as a role model, the President puts a stamp of approval on uncouth language.

Duterte can curse to his heart’s content in ribald conversations with cronies, and maybe even poke fun at some of the women in private huddles, but he should show some respect for the public when he stands to address them as the President.

That is old fashioned, some of his smart-alecky apologists say with a faux liberated air. Excuse me, being polite and proper, especially for the President, is never old fashioned.

Some officials feeling obligated to defend the man who had appointed them argue that everybody’s cussing nowadays and nobody minds. I look around and see only them cursing like their benefactor in a slavish show of solidarity and a uniformity of style.

A few others proclaim they have been cursing all their life (when their parents are not within earshot), so what’s wrong with it? If it’s all right, why don’t they shock their elders – and their kids — by peppering conversations at home with profanity?

They don’t, because vulgarity in normal conversation is not generally acceptable yet– even if the President has been trying hard to make it the new normal.

 If moral bar is a bit high, lower it?

PRESIDENT Duterte has been preaching change, part of it in the social mores. He seems bent on lowering moral standards to his accustomed level — so his “kabastusan” (as some critics describe it) won’t be too grating to the more decent elements.

A similar pattern is seen in some powerful politicians’ insisting on loosening the laws on marriage because they are under pressure (maybe from their other women?) to legalize their extramarital entanglements.

Note how Duterte himself inserts into his stream-of-consciousness speeches his maintaining two wives and three girlfriends (according to him!). Repeated by the highest official of the land, such talk dulls the public mind into accepting the errant lifestyle as normal.

Seeking validation, Duterte sometimes turns to his coterie on stage and mutters “lahat naman tayo meron.” They pretend not to have heard him.

We are all sinners in varying degrees in our respective circumstances, but does the President have to parade the ugly fact just to have it accepted as normal, or even official?

If a Catholic cannot come to terms with the Sacrament of Reconciliation – probably on the mistaken belief that he has sunk too deep to merit forgiveness — may he instead rationalize his misdeeds by attacking the Church as a guardian of ethical behavior?

The tragedy is that the Church’s representatives – the priests and bishops – are sometimes substituted as the earthly target of this rebellion. As the alt-object of those rebelling against the rules, the clerics may pay very dearly, sometimes with their lives.

Some priests get lumped together with political foes and critics who are first vilified and then — when discredited enough in the public eye — physically harmed or hauled in for imagined crimes.

The question bothers us: Will our own sinfulness and inadequacies leave us no choice but to play blind and mute even as we witness law and morality being degraded by those in power?

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 24, 2018)

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