LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By: Jun Ledesma, Columnist, Philippines News Agency
Reviving the grand inquisition
IN the feud between the Roman Catholic Church and Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte, the biggest loser is the former. Duterte for all the years that he had served as Vice Mayor, City Mayor, Congressman and early in his term as President, he never ever stepped into the realm of the religious. The few instances that he spoke about his faith in God is when he guested in the program “Give Us This Day’ of his friend, Apollo C. Quiboloy. I participated in most of these interviews where the Mayor would briefly expound on his personal experience with God. Early on, I knew that Duterte’s faith on the Supreme Being is not founded on catechism, dogmas and doctrines but something that is a lot deeper than what some bishops and priests portray him.
Let me take you back in time. When the Mindanao political leaders relaunched Federalism they sought out the Mayor Duterte to spearhead a national campaign to revive and assess the impact of a Federal Form of government. I was witness to many of these fora. What really struck me most was when Duterte spoke before an assembly of Chief Executives of Asia in a hotel at the heartland of Makati City, the turf of VP jojo Binay.
During the open forum, Federalism took the backseat as the captains and owners of industries urged him instead to run for President! Duterte repeatedly declined the calls and offer of support saying there are a number of aspirants to the Presidency and that they are all qualified. For his part, he’d say it’s a matter of God’s will, the One who designs everybody’s destiny.
I have seen Duterte grappling with the pressure on him to run but he abhors the enormity of the power of the Presidency. The survey had him inching towards the top even as he was not a declared candidate. When the time to file the certificates of candidacy came, he was nowhere to be found and the day lapsed without Duterte in the list of presidential bets.
Confronted later by friends and the media why he refused to vie for the post, Duterte curt reply was that God defines his destiny.
Lawyer Duterte ultimate dream was to become a city fiscal. He became one and was happy and contented. Alas, he landed in the political arena which was never in his bucket list. His mother, the late Soledad “Nanay Soleng” Duterte, a pillar in the “Yellow Friday” protest march against Marcos, was appointed Vice Mayor of Davao City by Cory Aquino. She refused. What happened next was her name was merely crossed out and in lieu of the name “Rodrigo” which was written over her’s.
When the first regular elections was held, even the political opposition led by the late Sen. Alejandro Almendras solidly supported him. The hand of the Lord must have indeed defined his destiny.
In the last Presidential elections PDP-Laban candidate Martin Dino, withdrew following the move by the Commission on Elections declaring him a nuisance candidate. Who else would best qualify but Rodrigo Duterte, the reluctant candidate. The man saw the hand of God and he relented. It can only be his strong bondage with God solidly founded on his experience and encounters with Him that he yielded. The rest is history.
Duterte made it his covenant with God whom he believed in that he will address the drug problems that destroy the physical and moral fibers of the youth, eradicate corruption and all forms of criminal syndicates that bedeviled the nation. It was to be a bloody war. On the record, there were about 3,000 who were killed in police operations and there were casualties — the handiwork of drug lords in an attempt to silence those who they suspected might lead to their identity.
On the other hand, close to a million drug pushers and users surrendered to the authorities for rehabilitation. The problem was the leaders of Catholic Bishops started to question Duterte’s drug war. In tandem with the political opposition, they took to the streets and demonize him as if everything was wrong in his campaign against drug and other criminal syndicates. The critics never looked at the many who were saved but cried and wailed for those criminals who opted to fight it out with the law.
As far as Duterte is concerned, the God that he knew protects the innocent and the helpless that is why he persisted to this day.
The Church condemned Duterte in every turn, in what to me is an assertion that it holds sway and authority on the majority of Filipinos who are admittedly Catholics. Here, the Church is stepping beyond its boundaries. What do you think Duterte will do?Submit himself to flagellation and revive the evils of the grand inquisition? Duterte, I suspect, even holds his punches. He knew of the frailties of many of his accusers. He is well-read and is knowledgeable of the dark ages of the Church. So far he has not turn a page of the scandals in the Church which Pope Benedict had asked forgiveness for. Duterte has yet to quote Pope Francis who said that it is better for one to be an atheist than to be a hypocritical Catholic.
As for Bro. Eddie Villanueva joining the fray, just shut your mouth, stay away from politics, stick to your religion and absorb a lesson on why you failed twice in your attempt to become President. God is not crazy and neither is he stupid. He is good all the time.