• We are the Church militants: Are we ready for martyrdom?



    YESTERDAY, the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union were at the receiving end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s caustic tongue. Today, it is the Catholic Church, its bishops and priests. I suggest that the Catholic laity, who constitute the vast majority of the Church’s faithful, not just the clergy and the religious, respond.

    For one brief stunning moment, DU30 appeared to have regained his political bearings. Through the good offices of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited Davao City recently, he reportedly agreed to stop attacking the US, in exchange for President Donald Trump’s promise not to criticize his extra-judicial drug killings.

    After calling Barack Obama a “son of a whore” and threatening to separate economically and militarily from the US and align himself with China and Russia “against the world,” this was, to many Filipinos and foreigners alike, a welcome turnaround.

    But with the US being added to China, Russia and Japan on DU30’s list of “friends,” he seemed to have no one left to kick around. Wouldn’t that make life a bore?

    The new whipping boys

    This was where the Church and its bishops and priests came in. They became the new whipping boys. They have been there before, but day after this column reported DU30’s alleged modus vivendi with Trump, he went back to his verbal frenzy against Catholic bishops and priests who have criticized the drug killings.

    While the presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza presented DU30’s letter to Pope Francis at the Vatican, belatedly thanking him for his 2015 apostolic visit, (for which DU30 had cursed the Pope for causing so much traffic), the foul-mouthed thug went back to his signature presidential discourse—this time against the local clerics rather than against the US or the Pope.

    He accused them of hypocrisy, homosexuality, corruption, child abuse, and challenged the Church to a “showdown.” These were all argumentum ad hominem intended to humiliate and shame the clerics using general accusations, without any names, without any particulars.

    In a fitting response, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, a former military vicar and one of the moral leaders of the National Transformation Council, said, “The Church with all its imperfections and weaknesses will continue to teach the Gospel of Life. Churchmen are not perfect. Nevertheless, they are supposed to proclaim what is right and proper even if they themselves fall short of what they teach. The fault of some should not be blamed on all.”

    DU30 doesn’t get it

    What DU30 seems to hold is that unless you are absolutely lily white, you have no business citing the law or moral principles for the benefit of others. This means that since he has publicly admitted his own failings, he has no business accusing anybody else of any imperfection. However, he makes himself an exception to his own rules. But if DU30 claims familiarity with members of the clergy who have fallen from grace, it could be because they share many things in common. They may, in fact, belong to the same political circle.

    One could begin with former priest Leoncio Evasco Jr., the Cabinet Secretary and leader of DU30’s communist coalition partners—next to DU30, the most powerful man in government. He has since tried to organize the married priests in the country, many of whom had also joined the NPA, into some kind of religious society, apparently with the intention of making DU30 the equivalent of INC’s Ka Felix Manalo or the Anglican Church’s Henry VIII.

    Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan, a former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, reminded DU30 that so many who had tried to bring down the Church “are now buried underground, while the Church still stands. So go ahead, and the Church will bury you,” he said. Stalin was famously heard to ask, “How many divisions does the Pope have?” It turned out it’s not a matter of military divisions or weapons of mass destruction.

    Even the devil knows

    The devil himself knows, so does presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, who is a Protestant pastor. Thus, apparently worried about the implications of DU30’s brash challenge, Abella called for a dialogue between DU30 and the bishops. But he was inept enough to say he wanted to “encourage the bishops” to have a dialogue with DU30, instead of asking DU30 to dialog with them and telling them DU30 would like to dialog.
    The bishops will not ask for a meeting and give DU30 an excuse to humiliate them by turning it down. But these are men of prayer, and they will never turn down a request from Malacañang for such a meeting. They would like to talk to the President about some basic truths about Church and State, morality and law which seem alien to the President.

    For starters, they would very much like to tell DU30 that they, too, would like to rid the country of illegal drugs, but that slaughtering the most wretched human beings like animals, as a recent pictorial-report in The New York Times put it, is a crime that cries to the Heavens for justice, if not vengeance.

    The silence is over

    The issue has never been whether or not they are for DU30. Many, if not most of them, are. It is simply whether or not they approve of the killings. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop and CBCP President Socrates Villegas, Archbishop Cruz, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi, joined by the clergy and lay leaders of his diocese, Redemptorist Father Amado Picardal, the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women, Ateneo University President Jose Ramon Villarin, De La Salle University President Brother Jose Mari Jimenez–these are but some of those who have spoken out. The silence is over. Even Archbishop-Cardinal Luis Antonio “Chito” Tagle of Manila has finally spoken out.

    For them, even if President Trump and all of DU30’s most powerful foreign friends choose to ignore the killings, these must stop. In fact, Trump’s own pick for permanent representative to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has been quoted as saying she would not be prevented from protesting the killings. The most barbaric offense to morality and reason is not that the detained mayor of Albuera, Leyte was shot inside the subprovincial jail in Baybay, Leyte at four o’clock in the morning by a raiding party from Tacloban City which was allegedly trying to serve a search warrant, and that the President declared none of those who had committed the murder would go to jail for what the National Bureau of Investigation had declared a “rubout.”

    Neither is it that policemen kidnapped a Korean businessman, took him to the central Philippine National Police headquarters at Camp Crame, where they killed and cremated him, and flushed his remains down the sewer, and that PNP Chief Bato de la Rosa said he was melting in shame but remained standing shameless, instead of resigning and packing up or being sacked by an angry President. For the first time, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said something right when he said De la Rosa should resign. Bato said he would resign if the President asked him. But at this writing DU30 has done nothing.

    But even without these horrifying circumstances, the killing of 6,200 or so nameless individuals, without due process, without compunction, without remorse, without adequate documentation for the public, is a clear descent into savagery and barbarism. The police claim that the greater bulk of the killings has been the work of “vigilantes.” If so, why has not a single one of them been arrested or killed while resisting arrest? Is the word “vigilantes” merely a convenient cover for rogue policemen or perhaps NPA sparrow units, which have been allowed to participate in the killings?

    Even if dogs, not humans, are being killed

    If 6,200 dogs had been brutally slaughtered and dumped in an open mass grave or dumping ground, would it not have caused a savage howl from animal lovers? Why have we not heard a similar cry from humans protesting the slaughter of their fellow humans? Where has our common “humanity” gone? In one recent birthday celebration, I walked into a group of DU30 fanatics who seemed to be in such ecstatic joy over his foul language, his unpolished manners, and his killings that one of them said, he should be made President for Life. Not even Solicitor General Jose Calida, who seems too determined to find some ways by means of which DU30 could proclaim martial law outside the “constitutional box,” may have thought of anything like that.

    The status of the human person, not just of drug suspects, especially if he is a Christian, is what the bishops should take up with DU30, if a dialogue occurs. It is what they should raise in the public square, even if—or especially if—no such dialogue occurs. This is not a matter for the bishops alone, though. It is a matter for the whole Church. The bishops, led by the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), are the successors to the Apostles, and their mission is to teach, to sanctify and to govern the faithful, as Christus Dominus, the Second Vatican Council decree on the pastoral office on bishops, makes clear. But they are not the entire Church.

    Headed by Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, consubstantial with the Father, the Church is made up of the clergy, the religious and the laity. The laity constitute the overwhelming majority of the faithful, but each of them shares in the prophetic, priestly and kingly gifts of the clergy. The faithful on earth constitute the Church militant, the faithful in purgatory constitute the Church suffering, and the faithful in Heaven constitute the Church triumphant. The laity cannot be less militant than the bishops and clergy in defending the worth of every human life.

    The laity must step forward

    Where faith and reason are trivialized, human life and human dignity brutalized, and fundamental principles of law and justice idiotized, the laity cannot wait for their bishops and priests to lead the fight. They must fight. They should be the Church’s most militant. The killings must stop, and the attempt to replace belief in God and all things related to God with submission to the devil as the lord of life and the universe must stop. DU30’s death agenda, which includes the restoration of the death sentence to be administered by a corrupt justice system, and the imposition of birth control measures that violate the right of married couples to live their own conjugal lives without state intervention, must also be abandoned now.

    Faced with a cruel and demented power that recognizes no limits of what it can do in the pursuit of its own ends, we need more than raw courage to face up to the challenge. The strongest faith is needed. This is what the emerging dictatorship would like to destroy. In early Christianity, it took the faith of martyrs to rise above the persecution of tyrants. In our time, in non-Christian societies, it has taken the faith of some brave women to torch and immolate themselves in the public square in order to rouse the people from their drugged sleep.

    We need something like this. We already have two canonized Filipino saints, St. Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Pedro Calungsod. Both are laymen and martyrs. We need more laymen and laywomen to recognize that our fight against the government’s death agenda is a fight of Christians who never lost the distinction between right and wrong, nor the will to resist a regime that wants to control our private lives, and usurp the Church’s exclusive domain.



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    1. You miss the very aim of DU30 why he is lambasting the criticism of the catholic. DU30 just want to help him to get rid the drugs by preaching/teaching it in the pulpit or even show the evil of drugs, side by side with the evil of EJK and not just one sided.

    2. It is tough to support a church that is crawling with detestable cloaked monsters. They protect each other, relocating their errant priests to another communities whenever they commit sins upon the congregation they are supposed to be serving. People blindly serve these people just because they represent the church, no matter if they are crass and corrupt. I am shocked to see some priests I grew up with, knowing how they were when we were kids and now the people bow down to them like they were demi-gods who could not do wrong. My eyes roll all over the place. I know how their souls stink, so why should I support them?

    3. No official, high or low, can defy the fundamental Law and get away with it. Look what happened to Noynoy after the DAP and SAF 44 issues broke out. The devil cannot even cause a dent on the Catholic Church, what more a mere mortal now leading the country to the brink of perdition.

    4. Hello, I am writing from Germany. I would like to thank you for your courage, Mr. Tatad. I believe, that Cardinal Chito Tagle is on the right way in offering passive resistance. What could he do more?
      Where are all his “fans” to support him on his way? Why are they so despondent?
      Where are all the followers of Christ in the Phillipines? Are they living in fear because of personal consequences in case they would protest? Has your President already install a simlar group like the Gestapo or SS?
      Please, do not stop writing against power abuse, Mr, Tatad, but do not forget beeing a christ closes from to be militant.
      Jo Brombach

    5. How many Catholics do you think are willing to follow the prelates to martyrdom when these clerics cannot even persuade their flock to vote for the candidates of their choice? Masyado kayong balat sibuyas pag kayo ang tinitira pero pag kayo ang naninira ganadong-ganado kayo. There is another way for the clerics to send their message but they always choose the confrontational way, which only polarizes the flock they are supposed to be the shepherds of. If this is intentional, is it because they don’t want the people to unite behind a leader who can compete with them in the never ending battle for the hearts and minds? The Church is an agent of the West and we are one of its vassal states and they want to keep us that way. Your Church has been the biggest polarizing agent of this country for the last 500 years ! Why don’t you start a religious war so that we can find out if the Revolution of 1898 against the Church was just a freak or that there is a another revolution just seething beneath the surface. After all, the Church is an old hand when it comes to wars, isn’t she?

    6. It’s time for us laymen to speak out against the evil unleased by the occupant of Malacanang. As human beings, we should go against all moves to desecrate the dignity and worth of the human person. We owe it to God and country, more than to ourselves, to defeat this monster. Now is the time to rally behind the religious who only speak of the truth. Don’t be distracted by what fanatics are saying.

    7. I smiled last time when you opted not to publish my comments on your article. I condescended on removing the bookmark of this paper on my favorites but you see, I have to be fair with the other authors. Today I smile again to read how you wittingly choose and carve your words and snide remarks to state your accusations, ah, without success. Sir, your inner feelings and intents are patently showing, still.

      An agile defender of the Church, a modern crusader and moral soldier of the illuminatis, Mr. Tatad, what you lack is credibility, lots of it. Your best prose cannot convince me that your intention is honest and clear in derogating DU30. You have been an opposition for so long that we don’t know which color you really belong. But more than politics, you panic every time the holy church is under imminent or imagined attack. I give you credit for that. I am not a paid DU30 internet troll. At least I admire you more than him.

    8. The same old dog, can not recognised someone, continuously barking their good neighbor. .all bark, bark & bark to the same person.

    9. By the way, what did the president say? “I will kill you if you don’t stop”. The killings will stop if they stop the illegal drug trade. The killings didn’t start because of no good reason. There is a REASON. Illegal drugs kill innocents. Illegal drugs can kill even the unborn or born useless because it already affected their brain.

      Hypocrites are making alibis against the duly elected president they didn’t want. Stop the protest. Give him the required number of years to lead as the constitution mandates.

    10. Yes, let’s bring the Lions out and be ready for martyrdom Mr. Tatad. Be the first in line, please.

    11. Marshall Laway on

      Lead the way, Senator Tatad. We are with you! It’s about time this psychopath in Malacañang be dealt a lesson he will never forget.

    12. Why believe this story from the former stooges of Martial Law. He makes me laugh. You can fool others who don’t experience the life of Martial Law days but for us the living proof of those days will not believe any of your story and theory. I see it that you make amends of your past dirty deeds by posting what you see is not consistent with your advocacy nowadays. Like an H & B nailed in the cross beside JC, Jesus will surely forgive you.

    13. Keep on writing Mr. Tatad. The more you write, the more the Truth will come out…..the clergy whom you are calling for martyrdom were the same silent group who turn to look the other way when drug started to flourish under the yellow dog regime.
      You are just sounding like former Senator Rene Sagiusag who continuously criticize the Pacman because of being absent in congress while the latter was bringing goodwill to the country.
      Or Solidad Monsod who even diagnosed President Duterte to having mental disorder cause of speech outburst
      while on a speaking engagement .
      The Truth….do you know how to live in a family with drug addict….do you know how to live in daily desperation….
      keep on asking families and you will know the Truth….
      Go ahead ask the church to tap all donors so Regional Rehabilitation Centers can be constructed….That’s true

      • Daniel B. Laurente on

        Those you mentioned are just good in speech…talking a lot…but without enough substance…they are just like that… “bubbling to the max”…They are almost in their twilight years but remains bubbling like a frog in the middle of the night…just to show they are breathing. Leave a memorable legacy aside from making unlistened comments.

    14. The problem, Mr. Tatad, is that even highly spiritual, church-going people, who spend hours reciting rosaries and kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament, don’t see anything wrong in killing drug addicts. They are sorry, they say, about the innocents being killed BUT….

      Nothing the priests can do, it’s total eclipse of the heart….

    15. Jose A. Oliveros on

      Do you, Mr. Tatad, expect Pres. Duterte to keep silent in the face of the unabated criticisms being hurled against him by the likes of Soc Villegas, Oscar Cruz and Broderick Pabillo? To paraphrase a passage from the Synoptic Gospels, they see the mote in the eyes of Duterte but not the log in their own eyes.

    16. I agree with the writer that the laity must act on the issue. The problem is, will the laity, or how many of the laity, believe that the writer is telling the truth at this time? I for one, for a long time, have been used to reading lies and misinformation on the articles of the writer.

    17. Great article, former Sen. Tatad! Why don’t you lead the crusade to answer to the evils of this government! We need a leader like you. Many so-called leaders do not have any backbones. You do! I’ll be with you on this crusade for good governance.

    18. If you want to find misery and poverty on earth look for a communist country first and a Spanish/Catholic country second. The Philippines is among the later group despite its’ replacement of Spanish with English while under the American government. Across the globe the Spanish/Catholic dominance seems to glory in the world of the poor. Spain has been the failure of Western Europe for centuries. It’s colonies have been in trouble since their emancipation with nothing but strong man rule and misery for Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala , Cuba and so on. Not a success of any duration in the entire list despite hard workers and great resources and locations. The US, when it assumed responsibility, introduced English but also welfare which has so corrupted Guam, Saipan and Puerto Rico. The problems are within more than without. Blaming everyone else for corruption at home is a folly. Break up the oligarchs if you must but make rule of law and encouraging success in business just as important. Stop celebrating poverty and start cheer leading for success no matter how modest at first. It’s not greed. It’s a Protestant ethic.

    19. Yes Mr. Tatad, the laity must speak out more and support their church leaders in displaying their anger against this most despicable killing of their fellow citizens. Duterte has conveniently forgotten the families of those who have been murdered without due process. Who will support the wives and children of the men who have been blatantly killed, supposedly because they are drug pushers?