POSTSCRIPT / November 4, 2018 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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‘We have a very sick man for President’

“IT SHOULD be obvious to people by now that our country is being led by a very sick man. We pray for him. We pray for our country.”

So said Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David in a Facebook post after President Duterte, on All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1), called saints “gago” (fools) and “lasenggo” (drunkards) even while his earlier exhortation to Filipinos to emulate them was still ringing.

His remarks disparaging saints were made late Thursday in Cauayan, Isabela, as he was wrapping up a briefing on the damage wrought by typhoon Rosita in Northern Luzon. He said:

Bakit naman, sa bagay ito, tarantado talaga itong mga Katoliko, p*ta. Bakit may All Souls’ Day tapos may All Saints’ Day. Hindi nga natin alam ‘yung mga santo, na kung sino mga gago na ‘yun, mga lasenggo.” (Catholics are crazy. Why is there All Souls’ Day then All Saints’ Day. We don’t even know those saints, who those fools are, those drunkards.)

Many Catholics were as offended as Bishop “Ambo” was with the President’s unprovoked remarks reminiscent of his blasphemously calling God “stupid” in June for no apparent reason.

Many people have questioned the mental state of Duterte. But he looked normal when he flew that same evening to Davao City and, per press release of Malacañang, prayed at the grave of his parents Soledad Roa Duterte and Vicente Duterte.

Hours before he mocked saints, he asked Filipinos in an All Saints Day statement: “Together, let us emulate our saints, pray for the eternal repose of souls and deepen our engagement with our communities as we work for real and lasting change.”

Either Duterte, 73, suffers from memory lapses and forgets what he said a few hours earlier, or his All Saints’ Day statement was ghost-written for him without his guidance.

Either way, we the Filipino people have a big problem. Something serious is troubling the President, and he needs help.

Duterte is reportedly a baptized Catholic, but it appears that his upbringing and his going to reputable Catholic schools (the Ateneo and San Beda) failed to give him a firm foundation for his faith.

To be sure what his religion is, we have asked Communications Secretary Martin Andanar in two emails for official confirmation. As we near our deadline, we have not heard from him.

A number of responsible people believe that, indeed, we have a very sick man for President, for which reason bishop David asks the faithful to pray not only for him, but also for our country.

It is distressing to see the nation, many sectors of which have been sufficiently scared or pressured to submission, being reduced to simply praying to free itself from the grip of a very sick man who has no qualms about insulting God, the saints and the clergy.

But bishop David said on Facebook: “There’s nothing new about our saints being called ‘fools and drunkards.’ St. John the Baptist was even called ‘devil-possessed.’ Jesus himself was called a ‘glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’ (Luke 7:33-35). The apostles at Pentecost were also called ‘drunkards’ (Acts 2:13).

“To be a Christian is to be ready to be branded as a ‘fool for Christ.’ Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12, ‘Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’ St. Paul too in 1 Corinthians 4:10, said, ‘We are called fools for Christ’s sake….’

“Please remember, Jesus taught us to be merciful when dealing with sick people. I think it should be obvious to people by now that our country is being led by a very sick man. We pray for him. We pray for our country.”

• Devaluation of the President’s word

THE ERRATIC disposition of Duterte, as manifested in his shifting, sometimes conflicting, statements on substantive matters is beginning to affect the value of the President’s word and respect for the office.

This impacts adversely on national discipline and obedience to authority. Witness how extrajudicial killings and terror tactics have failed to stop crime and corruption as promised, as well as the proliferation of illegal drugs despite the summary execution of suspected pushers and users.

With the erosion of the value of the President’s word, Duterte’s endorsement of candidates for the Senate, congressional seats and other posts up for grabs in the May 2019 election is losing its full worth like the peso.

While blind followers may go for whoever Duterte endorses, the growing number of discerning voters are likely to think hard about following the advice of someone who seems to be losing control of himself.

The public is watching how Duterte would handle the excess baggage in the administration’s Senate bandwagon packed with 14 nominees for 12 seats. Some aspirants will have to be thrown out even after others had been disposed of by giving them government sinecures.

Duterte is a lawyer served by a stable of legal advisers. Still he failed to see Art. XVI, Sec. 5(4) that contravenes his militarization of customs operations:

“xxx No member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries.”

He insists there is a state of lawlessness and violence at customs to justify the fielding of the armed forces. Being insiders, they should be the first to know that, on the contrary, customs is one big happy, contented place. Ask people there and their satisfied suki.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 4, 2018)

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