'Whispers can kill,' bishop warns amid drug war, Fox case

MANILA, Philippines – Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David warned against "whispers" that kill, as he criticized government moves ranging from a drug war that has killed thousands, to the recent order to deport Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox. 

"If looks can kill, whispers can kill too," David said in his homily at the 5th Philippine Conference on New Evangelization at the University of Santo Tomas on Saturday, July 21.

David was speaking in the context of the Bible's creation story, a "passage that was made popular recently by you-know-who." He mentioned the serpent who tempted the first human beings in the creation narrative. 

Saying the story was "meant to be literary, not literal," David explained, "Serpents do not talk in real life, but figurative serpents do! Oh my goodness, they are very fond of juicy gossips and intrigues that are best said in whispers."

David then delivered this litany of "whispers" afflicting society, including the recent murder of 27-year-old Jennifer Taburada in Caloocan City:

Nowadays, it takes just a whisper to put a name in the drug watch list. Sometimes it can even go with a kiss, like it did at Gethsemane, for 30 pieces of silver. It takes just an asset's whisper to lead the death squads to their targets. 

It takes just one neighbor's whisper to get the whole barangay (village) conditioned into accepting the killings as justified, as in the case of Jennifer. You know what the whispers are in Bagong Barrio? "Kumabit daw kasi sa pusher para may maipakain sa dalawang anak." ("She supposedly got into an affair with a pusher so that she could feed her two children.") 

It takes just a whisper to condition people into believing that the priests who were murdered, oh, they just got what they deserved – like "who would not die if you're having an affair with several women?" 

It takes just a whisper to get Sister Patricia Fox deported, and her deportation acceptable. The whisper would be, "Oh she is supporting leftist movements for destabilization."

And it takes just a whisper to justify martial law: "Terrorists are plotting to overthrow the government."

On the other hand, David pointed out, "If whispers can kill, some of them can also give life." The bishop, who is one of the most outspoken against government abuses, added in his homily, "If the serpent's whisper of deception was poisonous and death-dealing, Mary's whisper of compassion was life-giving."

The bishop said: "Dear friends, the next time you engage in whispering, stop for a while and ask which template you are following: the serpent's toxic whisper, or Mama Mary's and Jesus' life-giving whisper?" – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of 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 him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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