In the time of the state visit of China’s President Xi Jinping, “Santo Rodrigo” attacked the church again.

To nail down the critics of the church leaders against the agreements which the Philippine had entered into with China, Duterte attacks Bishop Pablo David, the prelate of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Caloocan.

The good bishop had already denied Duterte’s accusations, but at this time he is a good “scapegoat” of the present pressing and fresh issues: the signed agreements between the Philippines and China.

The Duterte government knew very well that the Filipino activists condemned the visit of Xi Jinping because it will only worsen the territorial sovereignty issues in the West Philippine Sea, as well as economic sovereignty issues in the plunder of our resources for investments—actually a debt trap China has laid for the Philippines. Led by Bagong Alyangsang Makabayan (Bayan), activists’ protest reverberated the people’s cry: “Philippines is not for sale.”

To thwart the churches’ support to the call of the nationalist and progressive sectors in the Philippine society, Duterte assaults one of the leading leaders of Philippine Churches and one of the most vocal critic and opponent of the Tokhang policy of his government.

Duterte’s “complaint” was directed to the very core of Christian giving in the Roman Catholic (RC). Duterte is aware that Roman Catholic parishes receive offerings including “in kind” products of the people, as these practices are very popular not only with RC Church but also with other churches like the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. He did not mention the giving of tithing as evangelical churches and born Again Christians have taught their members to give as a minimum standard of Christian giving.

Duterte accused Bishop David of “stealing” the Church offerings and donations “for personal use.”

This accusation is very alarming because Duterte mentioned the “in kind offerings” of the people, especially poor people, which can entice the people to leave the RC Church. He recently urged the  people to “build chapel in their house.” He added that Bishop David had “taken drugs.”

Duterte’s statements are also absurd and libelous because accusing a prelate of “taking Church donations for (his) family” cannot not be proven. But this attack is only an attack for the sake of diverting an important issue during this time, which is the unequal agreements between the Philippines and China. To blunder his way through the China-Philippines exploration deal and other investment portfolio yet to be revealed to the people, Duterte went on another rampage against the church.

Duterte used gossip method of attacking Bishop David.

He said, “Alam mo totoo lang, sabihin ko sa inyo, iyong mga offerings, iyong mga pinya, mga avocado, saging, saan napupunta iyan? Gusto ninyong malaman? Gusto ninyo ng video? Ibigay ko sa inyo. Doon sa pamilya niya.”

[You know what, I will tell you, those offerings, the pineapples, the avocados, banana, where do they go? You want to know? You want a video? I will show you. It goes to his family.]

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the inauguration of the Cavite Gateway Terminal in Tanza, Cavite on November 22, 2018. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Duterte also put malice on “second collections” or offerings are popular forms of giving for social concern funds.

Duterte continues to mock the church leaders and their teachings basically to distract the people’s attentions away from important issues that affect the nation, that will ultimately affect the life of the people.

The deals of the Philippines and China on oil and gas development, infrastructure projects, roads and expressways, railways, industrial parks, building of bridges, water supplies and dam projects, support to basic education, information and communication technology, assistance to agricultural cooperatives, agricultural products for export, project feasibility studies, foreign services, bonds insurance, and banks operations.

All of these agreements will further degrade the life of the Filipino people and their misery will surely awaken them to participate in the struggle of the people national liberation and democracy. Duterte’s scapegoat of these issues in the meantime is attacking the offertory means of the Church. The people have been aware of this government tactic.

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