Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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Letter from a reader

opinion / Columnists
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Letter from a reader

Sometimes, not often, you get a reaction from a reader that makes you feel your words make a difference. Or at least make sense.

Not everyone, not every reader, will agree with you. And many times, it’s the incensed, the annoyed, the contemptuous who will go out of their way to express their feelings and chide you for believing as you do. But in rare instances, you stumble upon a reader who not only “gets” you and agrees with you, but who also takes time to express just why your words struck a chord.

I’ve found one such reader in Fr. Seán Coyle, a Columban priest now based in Bacolod who has spent much of his life in the country, sharing the joys, hardships, travails and triumphs of Filipinos. As his opening paragraph makes clear, Father Sean has not always been a fan. But I guess he’s a careful reader who not just understands but also reflects on what he reads and shares what resonates with him. Here’s the letter he sent which made my day and, I hope, will please my five faithful readers out there as well:

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Warmest greetings from Bacolod City. I have fired an occasional “shot across the bow” at you on the letters page of the PDI about your views on contraceptives. But that is not what I am doing now.

I want to thank you for your recent columns, most especially today’s “It’s personal” (PDI, 10/04/16).

Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of my arrival in the Philippines and I have been here most of the time since, mainly in Mindanao and the Visayas. I have never felt so disgusted or downhearted at the situation in the Philippines as I do now, not even during the martial law years.

You expressed perfectly today in writing about your own family what I feel. If it wasn’t for responsibilities I have, I would take the first flight to my native Ireland. I probably will be moving there next year, though not because of the current situation.

What frightens me is that many people I know to be good persons are ardent supporters of His Excellency the President (HETP). I see their comments on Facebook. I’m talking about real friends, not just FB friends. Many of these are Filipino women, some of them living overseas.

I cannot understand how any woman could support this man. My late father was a carpenter and worked for 54 years on construction sites, most of those years as a highly respected general foreman. I worked with him the summer before I was ordained in 1967. There was plenty of “colorful” language there—but not from my father. My late mother once said to me that she never heard him use a swear word. Neither did I. And his moral authority came from his integrity and his respect for every person he met.

Never before have I known a head of state/government anywhere to take a perverse delight in using foul, degrading language in public, to take delight in insulting women.

I have been aware for many years of the evil that this man has wrought in Davao City, which some still describe as “peaceful,” despite the more than 1,400 unsolved murders there.

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And too many journalists, both here and overseas, lazily describe the result of the May election as a “landslide” victory for HETP. 39 percent of votes cast is not a “landslide” for me. Speaker Ryan in the USA recently defeated his opponent in the Republican primary in his district by something like 85 percent to 15 percent. Now that’s a landslide!

HETP’s foul language by itself doesn’t kill anyone but his whole attitude has led to countless deaths of “suspects” in Davao City where he is still dictator and in the country as a whole which is turning into a dictatorship. There is now no effective opposition either in the Senate or in the House.

I could go on but I won’t.

Thank you again, Rina. May we not lose hope. May God bless your family abundantly.

Thank you, too, Father Sean! You may be a foreigner—your native land is a member of the European Union which is on the Duterte “black list”—but your many years of service here confers on you at least an honorary “Filipino” title.

Moreover, your concern shows that your faith in the Filipino remains intact. May we not disappoint you any further.

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TAGS: Davao Death Squad, Duterte comments, Fr. Seán Coyle, Killings, Rodrigo Duterte
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