IT WAS not clear if then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was addressing God or the people when he made that “Kill me if…” statement on Jan. 17, 2016, in the heat of his campaign for the presidency.
Duterte vowed to stop crime and corruption in his first six months as president — “but if I fail, kill me.” At least 16 million voters believed him enough to elect him to the highest office in the land. In the same statement, he also promised:
“To keep the industry vibrant, we must protect our maritime resources. I will enforce a crackdown on illegal fishers, unregulated and unreported fishing, especially from foreign vessels. Those who will be caught will be penalized severely. They will wriggle like fish caught on dry land.”
These are among his other commitments that, after three years, haunt him: to end the drug menace, traffic crisis, extrajudicial killings, endo (contractual casual jobs), rampant smuggling, and alien intrusion into Philippine maritime areas.
Instead of his six-month self-imposed deadline, Duterte is now saying he is not sure he can lick the drug problem until the end of his six-year term. His loyal aide Bong Go, who is doing part-time chores as a senator, says it may take Superman to fix the traffic mess.
The narcotics scourge and the concomitant execution of suspected drug users and pushers without due process have caught world attention. A United Nations human rights investigation has been initiated and some traditional friends now hesitate to continue giving aid.
While Duterte’s followers approve of his instructions to the police to terminate uncooperative drug suspects, they raise a howl when a UP Visayas cheer group throws back, in protest, Duterte’s “kill them” order instead of performing the usual acrobatics-dance routine.
Lawyer Salvador Panelo was not yet presidential spokesman in early 2016, so we are wondering if he would now hurry to say that his boss was just joking way back then when he said “kill me if….”
In a neighboring country, breaking such a solemn vow could see a personage who values honor committing hara-kiri instead of passing on the bloody execution to the people or to a Divine Hand.
• Tagle: ‘Let’s go on mission, together’
LEADING the Mission Month celebration last Friday, Manila archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said that mission is not a “do it yourself” task but one that is communal.
The cardinal said: “Mission is not just for few individuals but for all of us, even the children and the poor are part of the mission… It is in community, it is ecclesial, the Church. Let us encourage every baptized person… you are sent by Christ and by the Church.”
The faithful in the thousands turned out for the event organized by the Manila archdiocese in coordination with the Pontifical Mission Societies of the Philippines.
Every October, the Church celebrates mission month. This year, Pope Francis declared October 2019 Extraordinary Mission Month to revitalize the missionary call. The celebration also marks the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter on mission, Maximum Illud.
The Manila gathering featured musical performances, and testimonies. It was capped with a Mass. Among those present were papal nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
In his homily, Tagle stressed that by their baptism, all Catholics are called to be missionaries. He said: “Every baptized person, living the life of Christ, by sharing in his death and resurrection, is also sent on mission.”
But to be missionaries, he stressed, it is important to have a “personal encounter with Jesus.” Such a thing, he added, is a requirement for growth in baptism and mission.
“No mission, no proclamation of the Gospel without an encounter with Jesus who is the Gospel,” he said, adding that mission is also fundamentally “witnessing to Christ.”
The cardinal also said that charity is central to the Church’s mission, and that Catholics are called to share it with the world, especially those in need.
• Nene — anti-FM stalwart, local gov’t patron
THIS journalist who was fortunate to have interacted with former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. remembers him for two things – as a stalwart of the resistance to the Marcos dictatorship and one who had empowered local governments.
Nene died early Sunday at age 85, overpowered by lymphoma, a cancer that spreads quickly through the body’s lymph system.
His son, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, said: “Our beloved Tatay Nene has joined his Creator at 5 a.m. today, Oct. 20. We thank all those who have been a part of his life. We ask for prayers for the repose of Tatay Nene’s soul. Thank you to all.”
Koko said his father, stricken with lymphoma, was confined in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Metro Manila last week after his condition worsened. He said: “Many organs were affected. In the end it was the heart which gave up.”
Nene’s last major participation in public service was with the Duterte administration’s consultative committee that reviewed the Constitution for possible amendment or revision. He was also a member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention.
He was among the critics of the late Ferdinand Marcos who were jailed after the declaration of martial law in September 1972. He was again detained in 1978 for protesting the defeat of all opposition candidates, including himself, in the election for the Batasang Pambansa.
Pimentel founded Partido Demokratiko Pilipino in 1982, which merged in 1986 with Lakas ng Bayan, the party formed by the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr. Pimentel was elected senator in 1987. He again served from 1998 to 2010, and was Senate president from 2000 to 2001.
Among the landmark legislation he authored were the Local Government Code, the creation of the Philippine Sports Commission, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.