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Repent, bishop says after Duterte admits to EJKs

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Repent, bishop says after Duterte admits to EJKs
'We should welcome this public confession,' says Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David after President Rodrigo Duterte admits his 'only sin' is extrajudicial killings

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte should repent now that he has publicly confessed that his “only sin” involves extrajudicial killings (EJKs), Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said on Friday, September 28.

“We should welcome this public confession,” said David in a Facebook post Friday morning. 

David, whose diocese is a hotspot of EJKs, is one of the bishops most outspoken against drug war killings under Duterte. An internationally trained Bible scholar, he is also the vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

David added on Friday, “We must remember, however, that the sacrament of reconciliation has 3 other components aside from confession. They are contrition, penance, and absolution.”

“Confession is admission; it is already a good start! If only it can go with sincere repentance or contrition and concrete acts of penance or reparation for the wrong that is done, God will always be magnanimous with his forgiveness (absolution),” the bishop added. 

David made this comment after Duterte on Thursday, September 27, admitted to EJKs in a speech at the oath-taking of new career executive service officers in Malacañang.

Ano kasalanan ko? Nagnakaw ba ako diyan ni piso? Did I prosecute somebody na pinakulong ko? Ang kasalan ko lang ‘yung extrajudicial killings,” Duterte said. (What is my sin? Did I steal even one peso? Did I prosecute somebody who I ordered jailed? My sin is extrajudicial killings.)

On Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque downplayed Duterte’s remarks, saying the chief executive was “not serious.” Roque, a former human rights lawyer, said on Friday, “That’s the President being himself, being playful – highlighting the point that he isn’t corrupt.”

This comes as the International Criminal Court (ICC) is determining if it can investigate the killings in Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. On social media, Duterte critics suggest that the ICC can use Duterte’s latest admission against him. 

More than 27,800 Filipinos have died in both vigilante-style killings and police operations since Duterte launched his anti-drug campaign in 2016. Meanwhile, Duterte continues to grow unpopular among Filipinos, as rising prices of goods and other issues pull down his trust and approval ratings. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email