Duterte rants anew vs Church
President Rodrigo Duterte said the Catholic Church, whose followers represent more than 80 percent of Filipinos, has no moral ascendancy to criticize his narcotics crackdown because it is itself tainted with a record of indiscretions among the clergy.
PPD/King Rodriguez

Duterte rants anew vs Church

GOTCHA - Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2017 - 12:24am

MANILA, Philippines - It was a time of digging up old controversies involving the Catholic Church as President Duterte chastised the clergy yesterday for criticizing his vicious war on drugs while reportedly ignoring their own follies and not doing enough to help eliminate the drug menace.

Duterte said the Catholic Church, whose followers represent more than 80 percent of Filipinos, has no moral ascendancy to criticize his narcotics crackdown because it is itself tainted with a record of indiscretions among the clergy.

“You expose me, fine. I expose you. Why? When you commit mistakes, it’s okay but when we do, no? B***s***. That’s stupid,” the President said in remarks at the oath taking of newly promoted police officials in Malacañang.

“What is your moral ascendancy in the Philippines? Religion? What is the meaning of it? Hindi kayo nakakatulong, daldal kayo nang daldal (You do not help us. You just talk and talk),” he added.

Duterte cited an issue involving bishops who allegedly asked former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to provide them with luxury vehicles.

“Remember you asked vehicles from Gloria? Knowing fully well that the policemen have no vehicles. You had Pajero,” the President said, with expletives.

“You were given vehicles knowing that there is a principle of separation between Church and State. It was sheer, purely graft and corruption because you did not deserve it. You cannot use property or money for your comfort. That is not for you but for the government but you had the gall,” he added.

In 2011, then Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairperson Margarita Juico revealed that some Catholic bishops got expensive sport utility vehicles supposedly in exchange for their support for Arroyo.

Juico eventually apologized to the Senate after it was learned that the bishops did not get SUVs but only utility vehicles, intended for use for humanitarian missions. The bishops returned the vehicles to PCSO, with one of them admitting to have committed a lapse in judgment when he asked Arroyo for a vehicle as a birthday gift in 2009.

Duterte also questioned the supposed failure of the Church to explain how donations given during masses were used.

“What did the Church do? The Catholic Church earns millions every week all throughout the Philippines. There are many churches. Where is the money of the people?” the President said.

“We explain how we use our funds to the people. You? Priests and bishops, you wear fancy clothes, you have vehicles. Do you have a house, even with just five rooms, for rehab? What did your church do?” he added.

“You count money instead of going around the neighborhoods, explaining to the people why they should not be in that industry because they will die. Now you want the killings to end? All you have to do is to preach because most of the people here are Catholics,” he pointed out.

Earlier, the Catholic Church announced that it would work with local governments for the establishment of rehabilitation centers. One of the Church-initiated programs aimed at addressing the drug problem is the Sanlakbay para sa Pagbabagong buhay, launched last October.

Duterte also cited the clergy sex abuse scandals hounding the Catholic Church as well as illicit affairs of some priests. The President claimed last year that a priest had sexually molested him when he was young.

“You asked for it. If you want a showdown, then let’s have a showdown. You mend your ways. If you cannot even give justice to the small boys that you have molested in the past, you do not have that moral ascendancy to lecture (me) on what to do. Sanctity of life? You’re enjoying your worth,” the President said.

“When we were making confessions to you, we were being molested,” he added.

Duterte also scored the alleged homosexual acts happening inside seminaries and the alleged failure of the Church to address the plight of the faithful.

“What will you do with the homosexuality in your seminaries? What have you done to the children there? Did you investigate us?” he said.

“You are in palaces while your faithful are in squatter areas and then you talk about sanctity? Look at your mirror,” he said.

He also encouraged the public to read “Altar of Secrets,” by the late journalist Aries Rufo published in 2013. The book tackled corruption, sexual abuses and other controversies that rocked the Philippine Catholic Church.

Last Wednesday, Duterte said priests should try shabu so they would understand the seriousness of the drug problem.

Police stats vs drug offenders

Over 1.07 million drug offenders have been killed, arrested or have surrendered since the start of the intensified campaign against illegal drugs in July 2016, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.

Aside from the 1.07 million drug offenders, 4,049 have been killed by still unidentified men in what police believed were drug-related killings.

President Duterte has said some 3.8 million Filipinos are hooked on illegal drugs.

From July 1, 2016 to Jan. 19, the PNP reported 2,261 drug suspects killed while trying to fight it out with arresting policemen.

More than 46,000 others have been arrested in over 42,000 police operations.

“The continuous campaign will focus more on the arrest and account of high value target personalities involved in illegal drugs and progressing towards the Barangay Drug Clearing Strategy of the government,” PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said.  – Cecille Suerte Felipe, Emmanuel Tupas, Rainier Allan Ronda

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