Christian devotees are nailed to crosses during a reenactment of the Crucifixion of Christ during Good Friday ahead of Easter in the village of Cutud near San Fernando on April 19, 2019. Frowned upon by the Church, the ritual crucifixions and self-flagellation in the north of the country are extreme affirmations of faith performed every Easter in Asia's Catholic outpost.
AFP/Noel Celis
On Easter, Duterte hopes for 'shared commitment in nation-building'
( - April 21, 2019 - 11:37am

MANILA, Philippines— President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he is hopeful that Christ’s resurrection will inspire Filipinos to always choose what is “good and uplifting” as he greeted the nation and commemorate the narrative of Jesus' sacrifices.

In his Easter message, Duterte also encouraged the Filipinos to renew their commitment to nation-building.

“May this time of new beginnings inspire us to always choose what is good and uplifting. Let us strive to be instrument of peace in our families and communities and foster great harmony and understanding wherever and whenever it is most needed,” Duterte said in his message.

“I trust that this season of Easter will be a blessed time for us to rekindle our shared commitment in nation-building especially in the upcoming midterm elections. May it become an exercise of integrity and reflect the true will of the people,” he added.

Duterte also said he is hopeful that “the evil caused by societal ills will be swept away by our strong faith in the Almighty.”

READ: Duterte’s message for Lent: Let’s work to attain our noble aspirations for the nation

The president previously mentioned his aspiration for the Filipino Christians to rekindle their commitment in nation-building in his message for Lent.

He also earlier urged Filipinos to uphold what is “right and just.”

Attacks on Christian beliefs

In late December 2018, the president mocked the idea of Jesus' crucifixion, saying it does not inspire confidence.

"‘Yong Diyos mo, pinako sa krus. Tangina. Nakakawala ng bilib. Ako ang Diyos, tapos ipako mo ako? Putangina," he said in a speech in Kidapawan City.

(Your God was crucified. Son of a whore. It diminishes confidence. I am God, then you crucify me? Son of a whore.)

Duterte, the leader of Asia’s biggest Catholic nation, has repeatedly mocked and hit the Catholic Church and its leaders for taking a stand and criticizing his bloody war on drugs. His remarks, however, also earned him criticism from other Christian churches.

READ: Evangelical churches 'immensely offended' by Duterte rants

Despite this, Duterte, who claims his presidency was destined by God, said he believes in God and fears karma, a concept borrowed from Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions.

READ: Don't be offended by Duterte comments on beliefs, Catholics told

Robredo: Easter brings hope

In a separate Easter Sunday message, Vice President Leni Robredo reminded the nation that the message of the resurrection is one of hope and of redemption.

"Sana ay gawin nating makabuluhan ang Kanyang muling pagkabuhay sa pamamagitan ng pagsasabuhay ng Kanyang mga aral sa ating pang-araw-araw na pamumuhay. Isa rin itong magandang pagkakataon upang patuloy nating pagnilayan ang ating mga gawa at ituwid ang ating mga naging pagkakamali," she said.

(I hope we keep Jesus' resurrection relevant by applying His teachings in our daily lives. This is also a good time to continue reflecting on our actions and to correct our faults.)

"Kasabay ng pagtatapos ng mga Mahal na Araw, patuloy rin sana nating gunitain ang mga naging sakripisyo ng ating mga kababayan para makamit ang kalayaan at kapayapaan sa ating bansa. Magsilbi sanang paalala ang araw na ito upang patuloy nating pahalagahan at pagtibayin ang ating mga paniniwala, pananampalataya, at ang ating kaluluwa bilang isang bayan," she also said.

(As Good Friday ends, I hope we continue to remember the sacrifices that our fellow Filipinos have made for freedom and peace in our country. May this day be a reminder to continue upholding and strengthening our beliefs, our faith, and our soul as a nation)

Robredo also said that Jesus' sacrifice should give the people strength and guidance "to stand together to defend freedom" during what she said is "a time when it seems there are many threats to our democracy and our rights."

The Palace has routinely dismissed concerns over human rights in the Philippines as attempts to discredit the Duterte administration. —Rosette Adel

RELATED: Duterte: I believe in God and I fear karma

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