Philippines President Elect Duterte makes fun of Catholic Church’s practices — Unfazed by impeachment threat

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte addresses the employees of Davao City Hall after he attended a flag ceremony for the last time as mayor on Monday, June 27, 2016. Bolando

MANILA, Philippines – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte Monday made fun of the practices of the Roman Catholic Church, which has been critical of his stance on family planning and death penalty.

Duterte, in particular, joked about the Catholic practice of venerating saints, people officially recognized by the Church as models of the faith.

“I believe in one God Allah. Period,” he said during his last flag ceremony as Davao City mayor. Allah is the name of the God worshipped by Muslims.

Duterte’s discomfort with Catholicism, it seems, stemmed from his unpleasant experiences when he was still a child. He recalled that when he was a child, his mother Soledad would punish him by asking him to kneel before an altar.

“I told Jesus, help me. He said I can’t help a naughty boy,” he said in jest.

Duterte said in the Catholic faith, there are about 5,000 saints to choose from.

“You choose your saint: San Tiago, Santo Isabelo, Santo Roman, Santilmo, Santo Rodrigo,” the next Philippine president said, drawing laughs from the audience.

“St. Peter himself loves cockfighting,” he said in jest, referring to the apostle whose symbol in art is the rooster.

According to the Christian Bible, a rooster crowed after St. Peter disowned Jesus Christ.

Roman Catholicism is a monotheistic religion, which means that it worships only one God, Jesus Christ. Catholics do not worship saints but only venerate or respect them.

Duterte said he has been at odds with the Catholic Church because of its opposition to artificial family planning methods. He noted that in Davao City, pills, ligation and other birth control methods are accessible to couples.

“I go against the Church because its position is not realistic,” the tough-talking leader said.

Duterte has called the Catholic Church “the most hypocritical institution” for its supposed failure to practice what it teaches. He claimed that bishops continue to teach morality but has failed to address clergy sexual abuses.

Last December, Duterte revealed that a Jesuit priest molested him when he was in high school but was too afraid to file a complaint.

Duterte, however, went beyond Catholic doctrines and questioned the relevance of the scriptures themselves.

“Those were written 3,000 years ago.  Ano ba pakialam natin sa kanilang sinulat?” he said.


Duterte unfazed by impeachment threat

Outgoing Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, June 26, 2016 thanks his supporters in his hometown days before he assumes presidency. / AJ Bolando

MANILA, Philippines — Impeachment? I have no problem with that.

This was President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s answer to his critics who are wary of his war against crime and corruption, the campaign promise that gave him victory during the 2016 polls.

“I won. Why? Because I was the person carrying the right message – corruption in government, criminality. I will fulfill my promise regardless of who will be affected. I will stake my honor my life and presidency itself,” the incoming president said on Monday at a flag raising ceremony in front of Davao City Hall.

“Impeachment? Go ahead. I have no problem with that.  I will insist on what I promised to the people,” he added.

Duterte has vowed to wage a “bloody” war against crime and illegal drugs, drawing concerns from some sectors who fear that it would lead to summary executions and human rights violations. He said his plan would suppress crime in three to six months.

The next president has offered bounty for those who would kill drug lords and is bent on reviving the death penalty, which was abolished by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006. He has also promised to protect policemen who would face charges because of his intensified anti-criminality drive.

As early as now, there are speculations that Duterte’s controversial plans will earn him an impeachment complaint. An impeachment complaint can only be filed a year after a president assumes office.

Duterte, however, ignored his critics, saying the Philippines would degenerate into a “narcotics state” if he listens to all his critics.  He said some of those who decry supposed human rights violations are making it appear that the slain criminals are saints.

“You cannot solve what ails this country by killing people but in the meantime, I have a serious problem to solve because seven years from now, it’s going to be narco-politics,” he said.

Duterte also defended his plan to impose curfew on minors, saying it was meant to “protect them from harm.”

“We’re not in the process of arresting. We’re taking into the custody the child to protect them from harm. How can it be a human rights violation? You protect the children of this country by controlling their movements at night. That is human right violation?” he added.

Duterte said he is still studying whether to enforce a nationwide liquor ban.

He also has a message to Jose Luis Martin Gascon, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, who has been wary of the next administration’s anti-criminality drive.

“Just let me be,” Duterte said. – with a report from Lorenzo Acuña



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