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Duterte’s unfair tactics and lies against Roman Catholic bishops

/ 12:10 AM May 25, 2016

These are presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s false charges and unfair tactics against the bishops of the Catholic Church whenever they humbly assert their moral duty and their magisterium, as apostles of God, like when they opposed his plan to reimpose the death penalty (this time, by hanging, at that):

  1. Ad hominem. Attack the honor, character and integrity of the Catholic Church and its bishops.

He alleges he was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest 50 years ago when he was 10. (His father, former governor of Davao, apparently ignored it or did not believe it because until recently, Duterte did not talk about the actions taken by his prominent family in response—if what he claims is true).

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Some bishops received vehicles and financial support from former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (They returned the vehicles to the government during a Senate inquiry, as an act of spiritual detachment to material things, despite their great need for mobility and accessibility, considering their multifarious field pastoral work to serve millions of Catholics in far-flung areas).

By virtue of the constitutional doctrine of “separation of Church and state,” the Church is “absolutely” prohibited from collaborating with and receiving assistance from government for its social action programs that benefit the poor and the oppressed. (According to many Supreme Court decisions, the Constitution allows “collaboration” between Church and state to promote the general welfare, and the matter of the Church receiving reasonable support from the state does not violate the separation doctrine.

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That the Church is the “most hypocritical institution” in the Philippines. (Duterte, of course, skirts the issues on his unexplained wealth in BPI, his dubious SALNs, the inconsistencies, if not lies, in his speeches [his positions on issues change from time to time, depending on his audience], his secret meetings with Chinese officials and the Sultan of Brunei during the campaign, his allegation about poverty and lack of campaign funds [belied by his TV and radio political ads worth millions of pesos] his secret big-time financiers from mining, rice-trading and other business sectors, and his many other claims that amounted to gross dishonesty, irresponsibility and hypocrisy).

  1. Diversionary tactic. Ignore the main arguments. (The United Nations and its agencies urge member-states to reject death penalty as a policy. The Second Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Convention prohibits death penalty since the 1970s. The current international norm rejects death penalty, except for a few states—e.g., United States, China, Singapore). Divert instead the attention of the public to irrelevant or collateral issues.

Sometimes I am tempted to conclude that Duterte’s very close, if not fanatical, association with top-ranking communist leaders and his deep ideological indoctrination to communism since the 1960s up to now have turned him into an atheist, the “religion” of hardcore communists.

Whenever I listen to Duterte, I always get the feeling that his mind is not only agitated by hate and overblown ego but also closed to reason and differing opinions, and that he listens only to himself and his alter egos, and that he believes his own lies.

—MANUEL J. LASERNA JR., former professor of law, Far Eastern University, partner, Laserna Cueva-Mercader Law Offices, Las Piñas City

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TAGS: bishops, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Rodrigo Duterte, Roman Catholic church
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