SUNDAY READ

The Holy Spirit and the rise of Rodrigo Duterte

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Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always. … the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”            
— The Gospel of Saint John, 14:15-16, 26

JUDGING from their pronouncements before last week’s polls, Catholic prelates might not see much of the Holy Spirit in the election of Rodrigo Duterte as President.

How in heaven could the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity be instrumental in the triumph of “one whose thoughts, speech and demeanor are diametrically opposed to the demands of submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” God’s Second Person, to quote the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines?

On the other hand, as the saying goes, God writes straight with crooked lines.


Is there divine inspiration in the nation’s choice of Davao’s gun-toting, rapid-cussing mayor as the next President? Let’s go figure.

As the above Sunday mass reading says, the Holy Spirit reminds the faithful of all that Jesus Christ conveyed in His teachings and His life, death and resurrection. Those messages are summed up in one declaration about Himself, His mission, and His gift to the world, from the Gospel of Saint John, 11 verses before the above lines:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

As expounded in volumes of theology and exegesis, Jesus affirmed that He alone brings salvation—faith in Him and fidelity to His way of thinking, living and loving.

Christ’s coming to earth and His preaching, acts and sacrifice also convey the fundamental truth about the universe: everything is created, sustained and loved by God, Who sent His Son to bring all creation to perfection in Him.

Finally, Jesus Christ is the primal source and ultimate end—Alpha and Omega—of all that are. We exist through Him as the creative Word of God, and our final goal is eternal life with Him, through Him and in Him.

Okay, so what has all that to do with Mr. Duterte going from maybe candidate to landslide victor in the elections. Well, as the Lord said, come along and see.

The ugly truth
If the Holy Spirit reminds us of Christ’s message as The Way, The Truth and The Life, perhaps those inspired words can help us divine what the Spirit may be hinting in the polls.

First, the truth. Public and media have largely swallowed the line that President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s administration has been a resounding success in its avowed goals of fighting corruption and alleviating poverty. Indeed, its presidential and vice-presidential candidates, banking on Daang Matuwid’s appeal, even added those words to their names in the ballot.

But the Duterte landslide belies the claims of Aquino-era gains; so does the strong showing of Sen. Bongbong Marcos in the VP race marred by cheating allegations (see Rigoberto Tiglao’s column yesterday, at http://www.manilatimes.net/plan-b-yellows-throw-roxas-under-the-bus-again-so-robredo-becomes-vp/261705/).

“Duterte’s win is an indictment of the administration’s failure,” said a key figure in the mayor’s camp. For while economic growth has accelerated since 2010, helped by the preceding decade of unbroken expansion, public works, and fiscal reform, millions of Filipinos reaped nil palpable benefits, with poverty hardly changed, crime and smuggling at record levels, and ordinary folk burdened by sleaze at the capital’s trains and airport.

Thus, the Descent of the Holy Spirit celebrated in churches today may have also happened in our land this past week, with Duterte’s victory making plain the ugly truth: For all the hype about Daang Matuwid, things have not improved much for the poor, and they have gotten worse for millions hurt by crime, drugs and graft.

Losing the way
What about the way? Well, as CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas rightly laments after Duterte called Pope Francis’s mother a whore in anger over the horrendous traffic during the papal visit, “When a revered and loved and admired man like Pope Francis is cursed by a political candidate and the audience laugh, I can only bow my head and grieve in great shame. My countrymen have gone to the dregs.”

Amen, Your Grace, many of us faithful have indeed lost Christ’s way in our thinking, living and laughing. That may be the second election message from the Holy Spirit: Asia’s Christian-majority nation has lost sight of the very basic Christian tenets, to the point that we can laugh about cussing the Holy Father and wishing to be first in line to rape a missionary violated and killed in a prison riot.

Worse, 15 million-plus elected a leader “who has openly declared indifference if not dislike and disregard for the Church specially her moral teachings,” as the CBCP admonished.

Never mind disdain for the Sixth Commandment. It is the Fifth that Duterte’s methods may wantonly break, with 1,424 deaths allegedly at the hands of the so-called Davao Death Squad, and his threat of 100,000 hoods dumped into Manila Bay.

Some excuse off-color cheers as part of rowdy politicking; others blame the tripling of crimes to more than a million a year for the public’s applause for extreme measures violating Christian teachings.

Still, the Church and other moral authorities must admit failure in instilling in believers fundamental values and tenets upholding life, marriage, and respect for sacred personages and institutions.

The last message about life is partly in the Spirit’s warning that millions of us may have been departing from Christ’s way of upholding life above all.

Besides that, the Spirit cannot but remind us always that Christ is the sole source and end of life and all that makes it good.

So when things start going less divine than many hoped while shading their ballots, the Spirit reminds us that it was not Jesus we voted for.

If we want life in its fullness, it is He who must rule us. Amen.

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16 Comments

  1. Please try to check your fundamental tenets of faith, it clearly violates the teaching of the Bible not to worship IDOLS ( Psalm 115:1-8). You quoted John 14:6 but your Religion clearly contradicts to the teachings of CHRIST by worshipping Mary instead of following HIM when he declares that HE is the Way, the Truth & the Life and no one comes to the FATHER except thru Him. And in 1 Timothy 2:5 Apostle Paul clearly states that there is ONE GOD and ONE MEDIATOR between GOD and men, JESUS CHRIST. How can the HOLY SPIRIT moves in your MIDST that you are all HYPOCRITES.

  2. I don’t know why people insist on literal translation of the popular tagalog swear word rather compare it to its more accurate equivalent of “son of a b.tch”. Many Filipino use such gutter language with no real thought as to what it means, as much as English speakers use “son of a b..tch”, for “F ck” only as a matter of crude expression rather than its literal meaning. I’m sure Duterte utter those swear words in anger over the traffic jam rather than intending to disparage the Pope.

  3. Realistic Filipino on

    Romans 13:4- “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

    Matthew 18:6 – “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

    Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Genesis 9:6 – “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.”

    Malachi 3:6 – ” I the LORD, do not change”

    Matthew 5:17 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

    There is no future for criminals, and authorities exist to put them to death. God has instituted police, army, courts and death penalty for deviants. This is Christian truth.

    God’s love and His mercy go hand in hand with His Judgement and His laws.

  4. ah just accept defeat as it is & don’t quote the bible to present your crooked rationale.

  5. marivil islam on

    I would rather say that the Holy Spirit touches majority of the people who voted for the newly elected President. No one (except GOD) could ever tell anyways what is in the heart of this trash-mouthed Mayor but at least we can see many testimonies about his goodness for the poor, the sick (esp. children with cancer), and the peace and order he installed in his territory that his opponents could not equal such accomplishments and not even mentioning his bravery taking his own risk to save peoples’ lives (e.g. hostage situations). A landslide vote was rather an indication of God’s Holy Spirit being with the people and the good Mayor to make this all happen. May GOD bless us all and do our best to make this country free from oppression and manipulation.

  6. The author totally forgot that Satan is alive. Why do you think we are here on earth suffering and not in Paradise enjoying the happiness that God promised? Because man was tricked by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit. Most Filipino voters were tricked in the last election. Now since Adam was tricked by Satan and as a result will die so the voters will suffer what Adam suffered. This is going to be a long 6 years. I only wish that he who was trick do not start complaining like a crying baby. It is your fault. Suffer the consequences.

  7. jose b. taganahan on

    The Bishops themselves are to blame why Mayor Digong Duterte overwhelmingly won in the May 9, 2016 election by not exposing who really is Mayor Digong Duterte. They did not even have the balls to persuade the Catholics not to vote for Mayor Duterte for various reason among others: for being a self confessed murderers of alleged criminals in Davao City (and promising to kill 100,000 more criminals and have their bodies disposed in Manila bay), for cursing the Pope for creating traffic in metro manila while visiting the Philippines, by joking about a dead Austrlian rape victim, by being a womanizer, for threatening to closed Congress should an impeachment case is filed against him and by being very sympathetic to the cause of the NPA who aim is for the downfall of the Republic.

  8. So by voting for Duterte make one less divine? ….. “for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” ” Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).

  9. Rudi Miranda on

    Thank You! Has it ever occurred to you that the Bible does not speak of God for everything in the books were written by man through his survival of the past? As such, what we speak of God is not of God for how can we ever know God? Just because Duterte does not fit into the box we want him to be, as unGodly or uninspired by the Holy Spirit do not give the Christians the monopoly of evaluating Duterte’s demeanor according to its bias. Human beings are here in the world because human beings are here, nobody placed the humans in the universe, but pure chance. Historically, good leaders were mavericks of the status quo, e.g., Socrates, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr. Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio. Duterte resonates inspiration in people!

  10. “Worse, 15 million-plus elected a leader “who has openly declared indifference if not dislike and disregard for the Church specially her moral teachings,” as the CBCP admonished.”
    Im One of the 15M-plus who voted for Mayor Duterte, are you implying that we disregarsd the “MORAL” teachings of the Church? Is interfering with the LAWs of the land the Moral Duty of the Church! Ever since, the church interest is the root of all evils.

  11. easier said and than done :) what is the church solution to our problems then? preach all ye want! but does not do anything! Banal na aso santong kabayo natatawa ako hehehehe! sayo! :-P Even the devil can quote the scriptures… ahahahaha you religious people who thinks that you are all holy … tsk tsk tsk…

  12. God bless for a new president. We all Filipinos wish to have a brave and strong leader to improve our society especially economic growth. Not as like Pnoy a failed government due to a weak leadership.

  13. silvino sarga on

    The women’s group hated Duterte, the human rights group, the catholic bishops and clergy, the holier than thou high- society, the Makati Business Club all detested him. He had a limited political machinery and the fracking Digong Duterte won miles and miles away.

    It means, the majority of our people are tired of being nice and politically correct. They want retribution and social justice for the injustice and inequities imposed by the uncaring political and feudal lords. It is a people’s revolution and Duterte is the People’s bayonet.

  14. Pudong G.I. on

    It is a crying and awfully shameful that us Filipinos have concluded this election by electing the so-called presumptive elected president but even more so is the unscrupulous and unfair treatment of some fairly decent candidates but most of all, the horrendous comments to the High Pontiff of the Catholic church. These actions has truly made our country “the ONLY” country in the Far East who are mostly Catholic has gone to the “DOGS”. If Mr. Duterte will truly go see Pope Francis to apologize with his comments I hope that his apologies will surely come from his heart and soul. Thank you Mr. Saludo for the “Truth” and nothing but the “Truth”.

  15. Rio Legaspi on

    I think it is more appropriate to say that the 100 million people of the land was drugged and hypnotized by religion resulting to a very weak reasoning power. For 495 years the country is governed by the Witchcraft and the Brutes using religion (faith)to propagate collectivism of headless people. For how long you will be in that stage living life unreasonably will depend on your reasoning power. The choice is yours: Faith or reason, life (for reason) and death (by religion). You are governed by Altruism perfected by Emmanuel Kant-isang. That is an honest analysis.