For the first time this season, Filipino voters are getting a preview of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s “program of government,” very much ahead of the official campaign period, even though his candidacy is very much the subject of at least three disqualification suits before the Commission on Elections.
From his own rich and colorful utterances, Duterte has become the first “presidential candidate” to offer us the broad strokes of his “program.” Upon her launch, and long before her disqualification and the cancellation of her Certificate of Candidacy by the Comelec’s First and Second Divisions, Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares had earlier unveiled an incredible wish list, which she also called her program of government. That is nothing, compared to Duterte’s vaunted platform.
They’re all crazy
Judging by their “ecstatic” reactions to the Mayor’s inimitable manner of presenting his platform, many appear to have been wholly taken by it, and seem ready to embrace his presidential bid without any reservations. But far too many more seem mortally afraid of him and what he has to offer. In their view, his platform ranges from the illegal and criminal to the demonic and diabolical.
A young business couple, who are doing extremely well in their restaurant chain, approached me in church the other day to say that they have started preparing to migrate to New Zealand, should Duterte remain on the list of presidential candidates for the May 2016 elections. “He sounds crazy, but even crazier are the people, we thought we knew,” the wife said.
Praying for deliverance
On her part, one elderly woman who does not have the means to migrate anywhere has decided to fight it out simply by praying constantly to Saint Michael the Archangel the special prayer first introduced in the Church by Pope Leo XIII. This is now prayed in many churches after Mass in various parts of the Philippines:
“Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle,
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
And thou Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the divine power of God cast into hell Satan
and all the evil spirits who roam throughout the world,
seeking the ruin of souls.
Many devotees are asking that more people pray it, as one of the most effective means to counter the forces of darkness. This is not meant to replace the actual effort to organize the voters on the ground to carry out the appropriate political tasks. But they dare not risk the possibility that the politician and his closest followers might, in fact, be “possessed” and need to be “delivered” from that state.
Neither fiction nor superstition
Demonic “possession” is not superstition or mere fiction. It is real. According to a slim handbook written by Fr. Jose Francisco C. Syquia, chief exorcist for the Archdiocese of Manila, it is the most extraordinary form of demonic attack where the demons act from inside their victim–they take full control of his body and speak and act without his consent or awareness of what is happening during, and even after the “event.”
The New Testament is full of accounts of how Jesus Christ, whom Christians worship as the Son of God, and whose birth the Christian world will be celebrating this Christmas, cast out the devil from possessed men and women. But it is the first time in the nation’s history that so many Filipinos have recognized that the devil has entered our electoral politics.
The battle has shifted from the merely political and electoral to the spiritual, and prayer has become the principal weapon against the possible demonic obsession and possession of some politicians. Many dismiss Duterte’s program as either illegal and criminal or demonic and diabolical.
Not even the State can kill
His proposed (extra judicial) killing of five criminal characters every week goes against every moral, political and constitutional norm, and should be promptly dismissed as unconstitutional and illegal, and its proponent barred from seeking public office now and in the future. Having done away with the capital sentence, not even the Philippine State can take away the life of any convicted criminal. How much more a mere city government official? How can he arrogate unto himself the right to execute any suspected criminal?
But far more demonic is the threat “to destroy the Catholic Church,” by whatever means Duterte has not chosen to reveal. By no means can he be more ingenuous than Satan, who told God to his face that he will not serve—non-serviam!—and tried to tempt Christ during his fast of forty days and forty nights at the desert. But we cannot simply ignore his threat, and pretend it does not exist at all.
Whether it is pure intellectual or ideological conceit, or the Mayor is acting under the influence of some hallucinatory substance, the Christian individual must react. Someone must insist on a drug or psychiatric test, but that should only be the beginning. What if the man is actually “possessed”? We must ascertain that, and have a fitting response. Exorcism, which involves casting out the devil, is a highly recommended response.
In his own way President B. S. Aquino 3rd had tried to do to the Church what Duterte now wants to do to her. By paying off members of Congress to do his bidding, in an effort to please US President Obama and Hillary Clinton, Aquino railroaded the reproductive health law which violates the sanctity of human life, the family and marriage, and the freedom of worship of the people, in complete contempt of the teaching of the Catholic Church and the provisions of the Constitution.
Duterte to outdo Aquino
It was Aquino’s way of telling Catholics, “Don’t listen to your Church, just listen to your President.” But Aquino’s failures as a president are far greater than the Church’s failure to stop him. Now, Duterte proclaims the same contempt for the Church as the basis of his claim to high office. He reaffirms support for the same intrinsically evil “RH Law” and the pagan and hedonistic push for “same sex marriage,” which has been scandalously declared “constitutional” for Americans by the US Supreme Court. And he assures his wildly kinetic supporters, he will destroy the Church.
This is not Armageddon yet. But “Digong” seems determined to bring us to the brink. Therefore the Church and her faithful cannot afford to blink. The votaries of Satan must be exposed and put in their rightful place. The voters themselves must do it.
Archbishop Capalla’s oratio imperata
As early as 2009, the Archdiocese of Davao, under then Archbishop Fernando Capalla, now emeritus, had started praying for the “healing of our people” from the extra-judicial killings in Davao. On Feb. 9, 2009, the Archdiocese issued an “Oratio Imperata” (Obligatory Prayer), to be prayed kneeling after Holy Communion, in all the churches of the Archdiocese. This is what it said:
“Heavenly Father, our city is wounded in its soul. Our people’s wounds are deep and wide. These wounds are the hatred and dislike of drug addicts and drug pushers, the senseless disregard of due process of law, the violent killing of mere suspects, the crass taking of the law into one’s hands, the lustful greed in the hooded killers on motor bikes, the baseless claim that there are no witnesses, the inhuman disrespect for life from womb to tomb, and the unjust socio-political system that tolerates all these to happen.
“Lord, on bended knees, we too confess that our souls and spirits are wounded by our anger and desire for revenge. Yes we are angry because our loud protests and public outcry have fallen on deaf ears. Our souls are nourishing irresponsible suspicions and rash judgments on the real perpetrators of these crimes. We are wounded by our disunity and hopelessness which imprison our hearts and weaken our willpower. Most of all, Heavenly Father, our souls are wounded by our stark ignorance that we, too, are responsible for the existence and perpetuation of the systems that promote, condone and abet these social wounds in the soul and spirit of our people. For all these, we are deeply sorry and beg your mercy and forgiveness.
“God of power and mercy, since our collective efforts at peaceful protests have proven fruitless, we come to you for help. Yes, Lord, we come to ask for healing. Heal our souls and spirits of all the violent animosities that weaken our society and life. Give us light, give us strength, give us courage to believe and to trust in you. Make us realize that in each of us, from every walk of life, there is an inherent and inborn goodness. You planted this goodness and it is not, and cannot be, erased by our sin and crime. This is our reason for hope.
“For this reason, Heavenly Father, we beg you to give us your healing touch. Touch the hardened hearts of criminals, drug addicts, drug pushers, drug lords, law enforcers, and the hearts of us all. Open them to the healing power of your love and compassion. Give the grace of courage to the eyewitnesses of crimes. Awaken in us all a collective consciousness and support which are urgently needed by the witnesses and the grieving families of the victims. Convert us to you and to one another. Reconcile us to you and to one another through sincere repentance and mutual forgiveness. For without forgiveness, there is no future for our city…”
This prayer provoked quite a reaction not only in Davao but far beyond. One such reaction was a strongly worded editorial in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which unfortunately is no longer accessible. But on Oct. 29, 2012, the same paper came out with an editorial, entitled “Dirty Rudy”, which recalls the 2009 incidents. This editorial speaks of Duterte, then vice mayor of Davao “after having served three terms as mayor, putting up a bounty for the “arrest, death or decapitation” of Ryan Yu, alias ‘Baktin,’ the suspected leader of a carjacking syndicate in Mindanao
“Two million ako kapag buhay si Ryan. Kapag pinatay ninyo four million ‘yan. Pag dinala ninyo ang ulo, balutin lang ninyo sa dry ice, dagdagan ko ng one million sa campaign funds…so it’s five mission,” the paper quoted Duterte as saying in a news conference. Translation for the non-Filipino reader: “I will give two million (pesos) if Ryan is captured alive. If you kill him, that’s four million (pesos). If you bring the head, just wrap it in dry ice, I will add one million (pesos) from the campaign funds.”
The editorial blasted Davao’s record of extrajudicial killings, many of them by the so-called Davao death squads. In this particular instance, it suggested that Duterte had offered the bounty on Yu after then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the current LP presidential bet, had confronted the vice mayor about reports that his son was personally involved in Yu’s criminal activities. It now appears that the Church and public reaction has failed to convince Duterte that the killings were wrong and that the public had no appetite for murder. The perverse applause he’s getting now from some people in our midst seems to suggest he may not have been entirely wrong.
The churches should speak as one
To its credit, the Inquirer has not trumpeted support for Duterte in any recent editorial. But its news coverage has served as a propaganda vehicle for some of his most outrageous statements. The entire mass media should now reexamine their position, and stand as one in solidarity with the truth and the Church. On the part of the churches, they should now close ranks. They should recognize that a threat to one is a threat to all, and take a common stand against any politician who threatens any one of them.
This should begin not only with the leadership of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, but also with the Archdiocese of Manila, the most important metropolitan See in the Philippines. CBCP President Archbishop Soc Villegas has already spoken, but we need to hear from Cardinal Archbishop Tagle too. With the same facility and zeal that the good cardinal could issue an Oratorio Imperata on the El Nino, he should be able to do the same for the nation’s deliverance from politicians who haven’t got the slightest respect for the people’s faith and morality.