Duterte to Church: Help, don’t criticize drug war

Pia Ranada
Duterte to Church: Help, don’t criticize drug war
If the Roman Catholic Church cannot atone for its own sins, President Rodrigo Duterte says its leaders 'have no moral ascendancy to lecture on us all'

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte launched a new tirade against leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in the country, blaming them for criticizing without helping address the spread of drugs.

Rather than “wait” for people to die from extrajudicial killings, Duterte said priests, cardinals, and bishops can help by instead preaching to addicts and pushers to abandon illegal drugs. (READ: Duterte curses bishops, priests who criticize drug war)

“Gusto ‘nyo matapos ang patayan? All you have to do is to preach, kasi karamihan dito Katoliko. Kung mahusay ka na pari, [you will say], ‘Mamamatay ka kung hindi ka umalis sa droga.’ Eh di nakatulong pa kayo,” Duterte said in a speech during the oath-taking of police officers on Thursday, January 19.

(You want the killings to stop? All you have to do is to preach because most of the people here are Catholic. If you are a good priest, you will say, ‘You will die unless you leave drugs behind.’ Then you would have helped.)

Duterte accused church leaders of just “waiting” for someone to die in the drug war, only to criticize law enforcement agencies and government afterward.

“You criticize the police; you criticize me. For what? Kayo ‘yung may pera eh. Sira ulo pala kayo (You have all the money. You’re all crazy),” he said.

Duterte accused the institution of not doing enough for drug addicts despite its wealth.

“Anong ginawa ng simbahan? Simbahan ng Katoliko? Milyon ang kita ninyo all throughout the Philippines. Saan ang pera ng tao? Kayong mga pari, mga obispo – ang gaganda ng suot ‘nyo. Mayroon ba kayong isang bahay, maski 5 kuwarto para [sa] rehab?” he asked.

(What has the Church done? The church of the Catholics? You earn millions throughout the Philippines. Where is the people’s money? You priests, bishops – your clothes are so nice. Do you have even a house or 5 rooms for drug rehabilitation?)

‘No moral ascendancy’

As during the campaign period, when church leaders criticized him for his human rights record and for cursing Pope Francis, Duterte brought up the “hypocrisies” and scandals hounding the church.

Duterte, who admitted being molested by a Jesuit priest as a student, said: “When we were making confessions to you, you were molesting us. Hindi kayo nakakatulong, daldal kayo nang daldal (You don’t help. You just blabber on and on).”

He claimed the church lacks any moral ascendancy to preach against his drug war, given its own sins.

“If you cannot mend ways, if you do not even give justice to the small boys you have molested in the past, you have no moral ascendancy to lecture on us all,” said Duterte.

“Sanctity of life? Kayo diyan may mga palasyo, mga tao nasa squatters. Tumingin nga kayo sa salamin ninyo (You are in your palaces while the people are in squatters’ areas. Look at yourselves in the mirror),” Duterte added with obvious derision.

He said he was merely exacting from the church the same moral rigorousness its leaders are demanding from him.

“You expose me, fine. I expose you. Bakit ang mali ninyo okay lang, ang mali namin hindi? Bullshit. Kalokohan,” said Duterte.

(Why are your mistakes okay and ours aren’t? That’s bullshit. Nonsense.)

The day before, Duterte suggested priests “try” shabu to better understand the “staggering” drug problem he is dealing with.

His remarks against the church came after recent statements from various church leaders about the spate of extrajudicial killings linked to the administration’s “drug war.” They urged the people to speak up as well.

Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani criticized the Philippine National Police and denounced its anti-drug campaign Oplan TokHang as a “bringer of death.”

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo said on Tuesday that the tolerance of some Filipinos for the drug-related killings shows that many of them do not practice their Christian faith. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.