A mere political crisis or a ‘crisis of saints’?



THERE is every reason to shout to the skies that a dog had been killed and cooked for a film that was meant to compete at the current Manila Film Festival. But there is greater reason to be outraged that there has been no similar outcry over the unhindered extra-judicial killings of drug suspects who, in the language of The New York Times, were being slaughtered like animals.

Not even after the recent two-and-a-half-pages spread of graphic photos of the killings in the Times. Not even after a town mayor was brutally killed inside his detention cell at four o’clockin the morning while supposedly resisting the service of a search warrant, and President Rodrigo Duterte declared that no policemen would go to jail for taking part in what the National Bureau of Investigation had called a “rubout.”

How many suspected drug users and pushers had been killed while the dog was being butchered for food and eaten on the set is worth asking. But the real question is, at what point will those who swoon whenever Bato de la Rosa strikes against these lower forms of life stamp their feet or clench their fists and shout, “Enough”? When will the killings finally stop?

Some bishops, religious congregations, Catholic parishes and universities have begun to speak out. These are drowned by DU30’s online trolls who have come to replace honest and intelligent debate with garbage. When will the Church and the nation as a whole find the courage to speak up? When the very dignity of the human person as the image of God is at stake, the Church must speak up, not as a political lobby group, but as the Church, whose authority and power and word come from God.

In search of courage
We have not always been such a cowardly people. But what happened to us? We fought the Spaniards before the Indonesians fought the Dutch, before the Indians fought the British. In Balangiga, Samar, in 1901, during the Philippine-American war, we dealt the US Army its worst defeat since the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Together with the American forces under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who returned to the Philippines on Oct. 20, 1944, we drove the Japanese away after we survived all these atrocities, the treason of collaborators, the shame of comfort women, the infamous Death March.

On Feb. 13, 1986—less than a week after the Feb. 7, 1986 snap presidential elections—-the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines under the presidency of Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of Cebu issued the statement titled “Vox Populi, Vox Dei.” It said, among others, the following:

“The people have spoken. Or have tried to. Despite the obstacles thrown in the way of their speaking freely, we, the bishops, believe that on the basis of our assessment, as pastors, of the recently concluded polls, what they attempted to say is clear enough:

“In our considered judgment, the polls were unparalleled in the fraudulence of their conduct. And we condemn especially the following modes of fraudulence and irregularities: (A long enumeration follows.) …

“According to moral principles, a government that assumes or retains power through fraudulent means has no moral basis. For such an access to power is tantamount to a forcible seizure and cannot command the allegiance of the citizenry. The most we can say then, about such a government is that it is a government in possession of power. But admitting that, we hasten to add: Because of that very fact, that same government itself has the obligation to right the wrong it is founded on. It must respect the mandate of the people. This is the precondition for any reconciliation.

“If such a government does not of itself freely correct the evil it has inflicted on the people, then it is our moral obligation as a people to make it do so.

“We are not going to effect the change we seek by doing nothing, by sheer apathy. If we did nothing, we would be party to our own destruction as a people. We would be jointly guilty with the perpetrators of the wrong we want righted.

“Neither do we advocate a bloody, violent means of righting this wrong. If we did, we could be sanctioning the enormous sin of fratricidal strife. Killing to achieve justice is not within the purview of our Christian vision in our present conduct.

“The way indicated to us now is the way of nonviolent struggle for justice.

“This means active resistance of evil by peaceful means–in the name of Christ. And its end for now is that the will of the people be done through ways and means proper to the Gospel.”

This provided the moral basis of the 1986 EDSA Revolt.

How did we become cowards?
How did President Rodrigo Duterte turn us into a nation of weaklings and cowards, who hypocritically praise what we despise? In the eyes of the Western media, which Pravda and the Chinese counterpart of Time magazine are trying to balance in DU30’s favor, over 100 million Filipinos have fallen under the thumb of a dictator who has suppressed democracy, subverted the rule of law, made a mockery of human rights, and proclaimed himself better than God.

The story is known to all. But it is the foreign press that is telling our own people and the outside world about it, while our own media establishments choose to keep the narrative a tightly guarded secret. They would rather create a portable altar where they burn incense to their false god and drown him in political praise. The most passionate panegyrists try to overwhelm him with the most saucy sophistry and fallacious speeches, while taking care not to brush against any first principles or sacred text.

I am not talking here of a President who is perceived to have stolen the election—-there has since emerged a counterclaim that the unparalleled fraudulence attributed to Marcos in 1986 was, in fact, perpetrated by anti-Marcos operatives and made to appear as the handiwork of Marcos. I am talking here of a President who was elected by 38 percent of the voters, but who has in six months covered the nation with the blood and corpses of drug suspects executed without due process, and wrought unparalleled violence in a time of peace. Some columnists and editorial writers call him a “good President.”

An improbable blueprint
Not many days ago, The Manila Times floated a story, signed by no less than its chairman emeritus, Dr. Dante A. Ang, from Lisbon, about an alleged blueprint for DU30’s ouster in the next 18 months. The alleged document was attributed to the recently departed US ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg. Goldberg recently left his post without any love lost for DU30, who had called him a “gay sonofabitch” after calling Barack Obama “son of a whore.” Based on the quotes from the alleged report, I thought that if Goldberg had indeed written it, it was probably an end-post report, which contained a forecast of the next 18 months, and a recommendation that the US play hardball against DU30.

I could not find any basis for calling it a blueprint for a coup, though. Not that I find the State Department incapable of such mischief, but simply because I thought it was rather naive that an alleged ouster plan would be written up in such wordy prose. If the US were to oust DU30, as alleged, I don’t believe they would discuss it in a memo of this type. It would probably be discussed in a top-secret, top-level meeting somewhere in the US, rather than along Roxas Boulevard, with a minimum of written text. Moreover, with Goldberg gone, Ambassador Sung Kim, is in charge, a Korean-American career diplomat, who seems determined and prepared to do a good job of mending frayed ties. Malacañang should be watching him rather than Goldberg, wherever he is.

What the past tells us
Over the years, through periods of domestic instability and discontent, especially during the Cory Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo years, some people had tried to talk to US officials in Washington to help effect an urgent regime change in the Philippines. I have spoken to some of these people. And they uniformly expressed disappointment that instead of being sympathetic, the US officials uniformly told them not to drag the US government into their own problems. I don’t believe this policy or posture has changed.

Ironically, because of DU30’s increasingly despotic behavior, more and more people seem to be hoping and praying the US would somehow intervene. You hear them in coffee shops and in board rooms. They are generally naive and wishful. But even without any official foreign intervention, the international media are trying to do to DU30 what no foreign government seems inclined to do. They have become more power-driven than some governments. They run the infowars, which seem more lethal than many shooting wars. They ran much of the Arab Spring, and at this point they have made DU30 the staple of their editorial concern.

A self-confessed killer, who claims to be a former member of the notorious “Davao Death Squad,” whose story had earlier failed to sell in the Senate and in the pro-DU30 media, is now all over the foreign media and their local extension talking of how he saw DU30 execute criminals when he was still mayor of Davao City. And one Western newspaper after another throw in a caustic editorial, virtually calling DU30 a killer who should be behind bars instead of running a government or a war on drugs.

A great diversion
With every passing day, it seems to become much clearer that DU30’s war on drugs is meant to divert the nation’s attention from a much more sinister objective–the intended communization of the state through a communist-driven Revolutionary Government, the making of which DU30 has put in the hands of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., his communist-in-chief. The unhindered extra-judicial killings are but the first instruments of terror meant to silence any opposition to his descent into dictatorship. This begins with the act of making the police and the state the first instruments of death. The unthinking and the naive have welcomed the killings because they have, according to them, brought peace. Tacitus said it best, “they made a desert and called it peace.”

The communist option is DU30’s first weapon against any attempt by the Liberal Party or any local or external actor to topple his government. With the proposed RG in place, supported by a number of foreign communist parties, the line of constitutional succession is extinguished, and any attempt by any outside power to insert a new leadership risks a genuine civil war or some nasty armed conflict. But this does not define the full extent of our crisis.

The nation and the Church, above all, must see that DU30 has confected not only a political problem of the first magnitude, but above all a human problem that puts the human person and the human condition at the heart of our crisis. What Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (the future St. John Paul II) told the French Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac in 1968—-that a “degradation, indeed a pulverization, of the uniqueness of each human person” was the root of the 20th century’s grim record—-is now at the root of DU30’s own record.

We need what George Weigel calls “a theologically driven optic on the human condition” to see the human person, and the human condition, in their vast fullness. Without it, we shall forever miss the point, and continue to believe that we are confronted merely with a crisis of politics and politicians, when we actually face not just a human crisis, but a “crisis of saints.”



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  1. “The way indicated to us now is the way of nonviolent struggle for justice.

    “This means active resistance of evil by peaceful means–in the name of Christ. And its end for now is that the will of the people be done through ways and means proper to the Gospel.”—Ricardo Cardinal Vidal

    Those were the words of an idiot. Do you think Christ is as foolish as you are! Christ did not even mention “active resistance of evil”.

    What he taught to all sinners is very glaring—DO NOT RESIST AN EVIL MAN. You might as well refer to the exact words of christ.

    Matthew 5:39 (ESV)

    39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

    He did not say “active resistance” , rather , he say , DO NOT RESIST. You were teaching the people a doctrine contrary to what Christ had taught in the gospel. Is this what you call Christianity ? To teach your followers a doctrine which is 360 degrees out of phase with the true and actual teaching of Christ?

    Only the demons are the ones propagating doctrines which are contrary to Christ!

  2. There are other questions you should ask:
    1. How did the drug problem reach all the barangays in the whole Philippines?
    2. How come the Bilibid prisons became the manufacturing and distribution center of drugs in the whole country?
    3. How come the previous administration was blinded to the proliferation of drugs?
    4. How come police authorities who are supposed to combat drug proliferation are discovered to have links to drug
    distributors and manufacturers?
    5. What are the steps government should take to effectively eradicate the drug problem.

  3. A Wonderful and well written article. The peaceful God loving Christian population of the Philippines seems just fine with mass murder and a president who prides himself on the body count. The Philippines is enjoying maybe the best economy in decades mostly from the birth of the Call Center and other BPO business from the US. Now the citizens stand-by watch murder and du30 take the country communist and oust the very long term friend who has helped many times and brought prosperity to the nation. time to wake up…. I also hold the Catholic church responsible as the leadership can call for a stop to the murders and ask their people to take to the streets, but they choose to remain quiet. Such a shame… Pray for the Philippines…

  4. In contrast to articles and letters by fans of Duterte, which are short on facts and detailed reasoning but full of name calling and insults, this article by Mr. Tatad is well written and highlights a real danger to the people of the Philippines. I hope that the people in general and the House of Representatives and Senate in particular, awaken to the threat of communism that appears to be advocated by Duterte. Congress in particular must ask the right questions of Duterte’s cabinet members, before it is too late.

  5. My filipina wife i know was ( im not sure if she still is ) a big fan of his in respect of a no nonsense approach to violent crime & government corruption. She is educated to professor standard so she is intelligent. He 1st husband & 4 of his friends were murdered at the same time & no one ever charged with the crime. So i understand people from normal life who suffer from both crimes almost daily & or with the threat of it almost daily. It is on that basis he gets his support. Myself ( a brit ) im unsure as i mentioned to my wife when duerte was first elected. I hope with the way he has chosen to sort things, things get sorted very quickly. If they do it was worth it, if not im unsure. Im 100% sure some of the scum are getting their just deserts & for them i have zero sympathy. Those in government who steal huge amounts like with the pork barrel cases deserve the same harsh treatment if guilty & these cases should be in court & resolved much much sooner than it takes in the philippines

  6. Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr had no choice except to throw the grenade at the rally of the Liberal Party in Plaza Miranda to knock some sense into the heads of our legislators. Our legislators will not listen to any reasonable argument. Only an exploding grenade will make them come into their senses. Because of the grenade that Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr threw at the rally of the Liberal Party in Plaza Miranda, the Senate was quiet about any anomaly in both the Aquino Mother-and-Son administrations. The proposal of Senator Enrile to investigate the Mamasapano Massacre was turned down by the Senate. They simply refused to say any critical word against the Aquino Administration for fear that another grenade will be thrown again at them.

    The good natured President Arroyo quarreled with the Senate on the issue of the Senate investigation of the Oakland Mutiny. Because of the intransigence of the Senators, the coup plotter is now a Senator. Had President Arroyo started her administration with EJKs and had she not threatened Senators of suing them for being drug-pushers, the Senate would have never dared to defy President Arroyo.

    At any rate Duterte showed respect for our constitution and democratic processes. He named Senator Pacquiao as his successor. He never hinted that he will be President-for-life unlike his predecessor, President Aquino III. He just wants constitutional reforms to be pushed in Congress. He even offered to resign as President if Congress approves his constitutional reforms.

    The truth is that I did not vote for Duterte. I voted for Binay. But I listened to his explanation of his program of government. I believe that his program of government is sound and should be wholeheartedly approved by Congress.

    Our legislators better wake up to realities. There is no guarantee that they will have a nice President every time a new President sits in Malacanang. This time, they should learn to treat our President with more respect. They should be motivated by reason and not by grenades exploding right on their faces.

  7. Yonkers, New York
    06 January 2016

    This prescient column of former Senator FRANCISCO S. TATAD, “A mere political crisis, or a “crisis of saints’?” in The Manila Times of 06 January 2017 will very likely down as one of the most important historical documents about the tenure of RODRIGO DUTERTE as President of the Philippines, starting on June 30, 2016.

    In the title to his column, Mr. Tatad asks the critical question: “A mere political crisis, or a ‘crisis of saints’?”

    My quick and easy answer is that the Philippines is now confronted by both a “political” crisis, and a “crisis of saints.”

    Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte is the political crisis: Since June 30, 2016, he has inflicted a REIGN OF TERROR on the Filipino people with his warrantless genocidal extrajudicial mass-murder of those SUSPECTED of being involved one way or the other in the illegal drug problem, a lawless psychotic drive which has netted for this blood-thirsty tyrant–himself a Drug Addict who is addicted to the powerful pain killer FENTANYL–and his “berdugo” PNP chief General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, some 6,000 hapless victims so far, still far short of his macabre boastful goal of 3 MILLION!

    It is a “crisis of saints” likewise because given the context of the fact that at least some 80 million Filipinos are Roman Catholics, the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, led by ANTONIO LUIS CARDINAL TAGLE, has been virtually completely SILENT about Duterte’s magalomanic REIGN OF TERROR!

    What a difference when , as quoted by Mr. Tatad, “On February 13, 1986–less than a week after the February 7, 1986 snap presidential elevctions–the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines under the presidency of Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of Cebu, issued the statement, “VOX POPULI, VOX DEI.”

    Where Cardinal Vidal proved a true courageous leader of his millions of Roman Catholic flock, Cardinal Tagle is proving to be a false and cowardly leader of his flock of 80 million Roman Catholics. He thus has forfeited his right to be a Cardinal. I would respectfully suggest to Pope Francis that he forthwith divest Cardinal Tagle of his cardinal’s hat and demote him to the rank of an ordinary parish priest. At the same time, I suggest that he lose no time naming a substitute Filipino Cardinal, who knows his responsibility to his flock and would have the courage to at least CRITICIZE if not if not DENOUNCE Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duter’s Reign of Terror.


  8. We are living in the world of uncertainty. But we can cloth ourselves with comfort, knowing fully well that GOD – JESUS CHRIST is in control under all circumstances. As the Bible passage so eloquently says ” Be still and know that I am GOD. In the end GOOD will always triumph over EVIL. Is DUTERTE greater than JESUS CHRIST?

  9. This is not Duterte’s war , his is only a prelude. In truth and in spirit , this is The Lord’s war against the dark forces of evil. Bear in mind that it has long been declared in the bible that the “whole world is under the power of the evil one”. See 1 john 5:19.

    The whole world has been declared under the power of lawlessness because of the deeds of that evil one. So we are indeed fighting a war against the forces of evil. Those lawless criminals who are involved in the drug crime constitute just a fraction of the huge army of lawless enemies we have been dealing with.

    A human being is too frail to wage a war against these giants of the dark world. We need the help of God and invoke the name of The Lord to combat these evil forces.

    Duterte cannot win the war all by himself , he need divine providence to annihilate all these lawless animals that are besetting our nation. So it is really war! Do not count the dead because many more shall be killed by The Lord in the “spirit of mutual slaughter”.

    He affirmed and testified , Psalms 34:21 (KJV)

    “Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.”

    Let criminals kill their own criminals in the spirit of mutual slaughter which is from The Lord. All we need to do is to keep the fire aflame by invoking the same words of The Lord in Psalms 34:21.

    We do not need to armed ourselves for combat. Let The Lord continue the killings through mutual slaughter. Let the drug lords kill the drug lords until they are finally wiped out!

  10. Lets simplify all these back and forth over Duterte like this: If I ask you, is it wrong to destroy evil? You will of course say no, but there are ifs and buts. Aren’t these ifs and buts the exact places where the devil will insert himself so that without your realizing it you are actually aiding instead of crushing him? Im sure you will shoot back, does the end justify the means? If you will look at the history of the three great pillars of the Western Civilization (formerly known as the Western Christendom), namely, The Church, America and Britain, you will see that the end-justifies-the-means is their real religion. Don’t you realize that our values are being forcibly shaped by crypto-luciferian hypocrites who don’t practice what they preach? Isn’t it common sense to be suspicious of the motives of proven hypocrites? Did the Church and America object when Britain forced the opium trade on China? Did America and Britain object to the barbaric Inquisition? Did the Church and Britain object when America was dropping napalm on Vietnamese civilians who were suspected of harboring the Vietcong? Given their history, what gives the West the right to dictate to us how we should deal with our enemies? Do you remember that American term “terminate with extreme prejudice” during the Vietnam War? Terminate referred not to their enemies but to their own people, their assets, who have outlived their usefulness. These are the monsters whose lead you are following in this so-called moral campaign against Duterte. We have had a Western-backed communist insurgency for how many decades now. We also have a Western-backed Muslim secessionist army in Mindanao whose MOA-AD and BBL were both midwifed by the American Embassy. Do we also have now a Western-backed effort to turn us into a narco-state? To paraphrase Ayn Rand, when the law does not protect the people from drug traffickers, rather it is the drug traffickers the law is protecting from the people, then we know that society is doomed.

  11. Dogs are lovable creatures. Drug pushers and addicts who bludgeon people to death and rape babies do not deserve pampering. How come human rights advocates never raise hell when innocent people are killed?

  12. “The unthinking and the naive have welcomed the killings because they have, according to them, brought peace.”

    Be careful what you wish for. It is a false peace. First they kill the drug addicts in a so-called war on drugs, which is really a war on some citizens, but what internal war is next and what citizens will be the next targets of a tyrannical government?

    “We need what George Weigel calls “a theologically driven optic on the human condition” to see the human person, and the human condition, in their vast fullness.”

    I disagree. Theology only creates more division. As it was said of Jesus in John 7:43, “so there was a division among the people because of him”. Instead of religion, secular Humanism is the best way to see the human person and the human condition in their vast fullness and create a better world for all.

    • I agree with you , yes , Christ is actually coming a second time “to cast fire on earth and to bring division” as he testified in the gospels.

      Why? Because in casting fire , that is , by sowing anger among the populace , he can create the much needed division.
      When division among the people exist , and the fighting of opinions rages—then it is ready to come forth from its hiding place the truth which has been kept secret for ages.

      You see , when a man is angry with his adversary , he is likely bound to go out and tell the whole truth.
      Therefore , there really must be a division so as to separate the sheep from the goats.