Advice for Duterte and the bishops: Don’t fight


IT’S a box-office hit formula: getting superheroes to fight: Batman vs Superman, in April, then the battle between opposing Avengers led by Iron Man and Captain America.

For the nation’s sake, let’s hope the current potboiler pitting President-elect Rodrigo Duterte against the Catholic Church doesn’t go further than this month. Otherwise, it would be bad for the country, the Church, the Chief Executive, and crime busting.

Why is that? Let’s start with the fight against criminality. Lawlessness got Duterte elected, as the only presidentiable declaring war on crime; the others trotted out the old campaign formula of more jobs and public services.

As the Philippine Statistics Authority reports in its annual Philippines In Figures compilation (discounting dubious data for 2011 – 12), crimes tripled from 324,082 in 2010 to more than a million a year since 2013. Those 3 million crimes in the past three years terrorized at least 6 million victims and 30 million of their close family and friends.

Add the millions of families with drug addicts, the millions of commuters and travelers incensed over the Metro Rail Transit and “tanim-bala” airport scams, and the tens of millions watching lawlessness on TV every night. Now you know why Duterte got 16.6 million votes.

The war on crime needs the Church
But he can’t deliver on his winning pledge to eradicate crime and corruption if the Catholic Church ever lost its moral authority over the great majority of Filipinos.

Imagine if most of the 85 million baptized Catholics in the country water down the religion’s key tenets, and pick and choose which of the Ten Commandments to follow.

Indeed, millions already discard the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, while countless others break the Fifth and the Seventh. (If people don’t know that the first two prohibit illicit sex, while the latter ban killing and stealing, that only underscores the problem.)

What if Duterte actually succeeds in convincing tens of millions of Filipino Catholics that they don’t have to listen to bishops and priests because of abuses and hypocrisy by some clerics? Would that lead to more or fewer people killing, stealing, and deviating from traditional family values?

Would eroding Catholicism’s influence increase or decrease lawlessness, sleaze, drug addiction, violence, family breakups, juvenile delinquency, and all the other social ills Duterte rails against? Or does religiosity advance lawful, virtuous living?

And which would help win the battle against lawlessness—quarreling with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, or persuading the CBCP to issue pastoral letters and institute sermons, prayers, and parish programs enjoining tens of millions of believers across the archipelago to abide by the law, support law enforcement, eschew corruption, and strengthen family values as a bulwark against delinquency and drugs?

Think about it, Mr. Mayor President.

Filipinos trust Church more than State
Besides crime and graft prevention, Duterte would do well to woo Church support for his overall reform and governance agenda, from nighttime curfews to federalism. After all, Filipinos trust the Church more than the government.

The 2015 Philippine Trust Index <> survey reported that nearly three-quarters of Filipinos (73 percent) trust the Catholic Church, followed by the academe (51 percent), and media (32 percent).

And the government? Despite the Aquino administration’s relatively high trust ratings in Pulse Asia polls, the government is trusted by just 12 percent or about one in eight Filipinos, according to PTI. The Office of the President rates 15 percent; Supreme Court, 17 percent; House of Representatives, 12 percent; and the Senate, 10 percent.

Among informed Filipinos, trust in the State nearly halves to 7 percent, while Church trust remains a hefty 68 percent (see PTI graphic).

So it might be a good idea for Duterte to cultivate Church support for his initiatives, many of which are controversial and likely to be widely debated rather than swallowed hook, line and sinker.

Take charter change. In 2014, six out of 10 voting-age Filipinos opposed amending the Constitution, as polled by Pulse Asia. Maybe that score was skewed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s remarks then about lifting term limits for him to run for re-election. Still, it would help to have support from the most trusted institution for cha-cha to win wide public approval.

Especially since Duterte himself did not get the nod of 62 percent of voters, most of whom may listen more to the bishops than government leaders.

The Church needs ‘The Punisher’
What about the Church? Does it need “The Punisher,” as Duterte has been called by those likening him to the comic-book vigilante?

You bet. The crime data amply demonstrates that tens of thousands of Filipinos need more than just Church exhortations to live by God’s law, assuming the lawless even listen to them.

Crimes against persons tripled between 2010 and 2014 to 258,444 incidents. Rape more than doubled to 10,294, while physical injury increased nearly 2.5 times to 232,685 cases. Nearly 10,000 murders were committed, up more than a thousand.

Jueteng also surged after Aquino removed the Philippine National Police from the supervision of then-Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who stopped illegal numbers game in Naga City. Narcotics and guns have also flooded into the country due to the tripling of smuggling since 2009 to $26.6 billion in 2014.

Add to Church concerns the sleaze explosion under Aquino, who trebled pork barrel and never punished close associates (KKK by their Filipino initials) involved in anomalies.

Plainly, lawbreakers clearly need not just the Word of God, but also the fear of the Lord to stop their life- and family-destroying scourges like crime, drugs, gambling and graft; or at least a dread of The Punisher.

Of course, the bishops will keep railing against wanton killings and rights violations, and Duterte should appreciate that churchly help in keeping law enforcers operating within the law.

So, Your Excellencies, stop fighting each other and turn your combined clout against the real enemy: the crooks destroying the Philippines.


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  1. Am a catholic but what i cant understand is why all the priest and bishops is dying to interfere in politics.. For 30years our govt. is under the controll of the catholic church and see what happened crime and drug is everywhere,poverty is getting more serious as well as the uncontrolled corruption in all govt. agency.
    Now if the priest and bishop can solve these problem then go ahead go and tell these evil doers to repent and stop doing evil.. but none of them go and do… they are just sitting in their airconditioned room waiting for some one faults and immediately they go to media and express their view.. be fair and love the country.. tell the truth to the people and teach them how Jesus love them…
    Concerning morality What moral is these priest is saying see the log in your eye before you tell your brother to remove the speck in his/her eye.
    Most of the catholic faithful are faithful in the church but have doubt to these priest who is openly making them self as saint and without sin..They forget that no men in this world who have no sin…Wake up my dear brother it is now time to know the truth by reading the bible with all your heart instead of listening to these priest. I understand that there are good priest and i pity them…I urge them to continue in their good work.. Comfort the oppressed and visit the widows and help them this what the priest must do…In JESUS NAME.. AMEN.

  2. “Gomburza or GOMBURZA refers to three Filipino Catholic priests (Mriano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora), who were executed on 17 February 1872 at Luneta in Bagumbayan, Philippines by Spanish colonial authorities on charges of subversion arising from the 1872 Cavite mutiny. The name is an (should be ‘a’) portmanteau of the priests’ surnames.

    “Their execution had a profound effect on many late 19th-century Filipinos; Jose Rizal, later to become the country’s national hero, would dedicate his novel EL FILIBUSTERISMO to their memory” (Wikipedia).

    They were buried in Paco Cemetery where enemies of the state were buried. So there is your bit of history that started the revolution to oust the abusive government.

    Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17). Separation of Church and state shall be inviolable (Article 2, section 6 of the 1987 Constitution).

    We need to be reminded of things that affect our daily lives as citizens of this world and the next. Moral authority is not the same as civil authority. While “moral” respects the individual’s conscience (freedom), “civil” is backed with guns. It seems to be common knowledge that there are enforcers (guns) within the INK.

  3. I listened to Catholic Priests, we should give a chance our President elect in his own way fighting crime. These Priest’s had their time and failed miserably…

  4. In my simple way, I actively campaigned for President-elect Duterte. It was my personal conviction that he was the best among the candidates. My church, the Catholic Church through the CBCP, had its own appreciation of things, and I respected it too. But at the end it was my freedom of choice based on my judgment who I campaigned for. I voted in Duterte, for myself and for the Filipino people. However, my respect and faith for my church remained as strong as ever. In fact, my church did the noble thing of articulating its guiding principles, but never obliged us to vote for a specific candidate (s), unlike other sects or religion.. President Duterte, my president, please work and respect our Church! We are with you. Same pleading to the Church leaderships. We are all one in longing for a better Philippines and people. God Bless the Philippines!

  5. Sad and pathetic Filipinos follow a ” religion ” that was forced on them by the Spaniards !!! A Catholic is not a Christian , look at all the CORRUPTION , IMMORALITY and SIN in your country !!!

  6. Since when has the church ever held moral authority? Billions of pesos in the bank while children die starving in the streets. Taking poor people’s money on the promise of a better life after they die. shame.

  7. what moral authority of the Catholic Church over the great majority of Filipinos are we talking about? the Catholic Church have lost whatever moral authority it may have had on the majority of the Filipinos long time ago. if we are to take a survey of the religious affiliations of the criminals, it will show that most of them were baptized in the Catholic rites. it is better that the government rid of the criminals to protect the lives of the peace-loving citizens, and the priests to save the souls.

  8. my salute to the admonition.
    nicely said.
    and if ever Pres, Duterte did not find a monolithic support from the Catholic “bloc” before the elections, that in itself shows the “separation” that he invokes between the Church and the State.
    He must see that “when the people have spoken”, the Church’s leadership immediately rallied for Pres. Duterte’s support.
    Besides, it would be fair to remember, millions of Catholics voted for him trusting in his promises despite confusing signals from the social media.

  9. There is only one item, to minimize criminality and that is to instill FEAR to all these criminals. The church lost its control on the people. How can to tell these assassins to stop killing ? Can a priest stop a rapist from raping a 4 year old child ? How about a person addicted to drugs ? The church issued a letter prior to this election not to vote for Duterte,,, not mentioned his name..did the Catholics followed their instruction ? The Catholics cannot even stop corruption in their fellow priest.

  10. You are always bragging the only catholic country in the world.The president is catholic, and so the VP, the senators and most of the congressman. What you got? The Philippines, one of the most CORRUPT ON THIS PLANET. The highest crime committed. Do not brag your catholic!

    The Mayor is right!

    Pray to GOD directly!

  11. Rio Legaspi on

    To make the long story short, it is the government and the church to blame for the break up of the covenant with the people.I will call them the “Witchcraft” and the “Brutes” working hand in hand in applying “Altruism” negating “Reason” at all.

  12. Amnata Pundit on

    The fight against crime needs the Church because of her moral authority? If she had moral authority over Catholics of this country then she would have what she envies so much about the INK, that is the power of bloc voting. The Church lost her moral authority a long time ago. Don’t forget that the Philippine Revolution was a revolt against the abuses of the friars, that part of our history that the Church under this yellow regime has succeeded in erasing from our textbooks. In recent times, she had supported Cory against Marcos, GMA against Erap and now this Boy Sayad, all of whom were crushing disappointments for the people. According to the surveys the Church is more trusted than the government? Somebody should tell Pres. Duterte to open a government agency that will conduct honest to goodness surveys unlike the bullshit propaganda that the likes of SWS dishes out all the time. SWS is a tool of the yellow regime, and by that I mean the real forces behind the yellows, namely the Church, the Makati Business Club and the American-led West, that is why their survey results are always in line with the interests of these three malignant forces who currently have this deadly stranglehold on our country (read Smartmatic). By the Grace of God lang nakalusot si Duterte. That is why to pray for Duterte is to pray for the people.