“Is there an intelligent priest? They are all stupid. If they aren’t stupid, they wouldn’t enter priesthood. You are a man, but you chose to be a priest. You keep on looking at all the beautiful women that you can’t court. My God!…The women should refrain from going near the priests because when you are near him, he will just smell the scent of your body. And if he corners you in the church, patay ka (you’re in trouble). He will court you. Do you know why? It’s because he is a man…God gave him a penis. What will they do with that? Will they slap it against the door every morning? God was the one who made a mistake there, not us.”–Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
In the midst of heated political campaigns for 2019 May elections, President Duterte continues to attack clergy people.
He continues to do this so that some relevant issues for the May electoral processes would not be noticed by the public. Duterte does not worry about “honesty” concerns during the campaign trail. Duterte focused his rants on church people for purposes of diverting the attention of the people.
He maintains his role in the psywar operations of his government. He called the bishops “useless.” He called priests as “stupid” and insulted them by telling women church goers not to go near to the priests. He called people to rob rich bishops, kill them if they fight back. Duterte’s spokesperson Sal Panelo blamed to the anti-Duterte group for Duterte’s attacks against the church people.
Aside from open tirades of the clergy, Duterte’s minions the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), its force multiplies such as Special Civilian Auxiliary, barangay intelligence networks and the rebel-returnees are harassing and threatening the clergy through surveillance, red-tagging and death threats through text messages. The state forces tagged the progressive clergy as “terrorists” and “have worked with the CPP-NPA.”
The state forces employ combat and psywar operations in this counter-insurgency campaign. They use fake news and other forms of disinformation. They mobilize fake surrenderees through, the barangay officials and local government units. They cannot win over the Churches to support this campaign, therefore they have to destroy the image of the Churches through red-baiting, red scare and vilification.
Inspired by the “kill, kill, kill” pronouncements and rants against the clergy who opposed the militarist policy of Duterte, the AFP and PNP are willing to violate human rights of the people. In Mindanao, Negros, Samar and Bicol military officers rule over the civilian officials. They prevent independent and people’s movement to deliver humanitarian and legal assistance to the victims of militarization and counter-insurgency operations.
The counter-insurgency campaign of the government will be intensified during elections. The AFP and PNP will use all means of combat and psywar operations to deny the votes of the people for the progressive and opposition candidates and party-lists.
When progressive and opposition candidates and party-lists win in May electoral processes, this only means that fraud and terrorism are prevented even though the Duterte camp will pour out government funds against his critics and for his candidates. The “inserted pork barrels” in the 2019 national budget will be used for political campaigns and vote-buying in elections.
Many people believe that the 2019 May elections are crucial in stopping Duterte’s immoral and fascist government. Some people think of the future of the Filipinos. That is why they are asking people to vote honestly and rightly. However, voting is not enough. There is a need to help bring issues in political campaigns either for candidates for national level or local government officials.
The ‘kill, kill, kill’ policy and “useless bishops, stupid priests” are May Elections issues. These issues should be added to basic issues such as TRAIN Law, Charter Change and bogus federalism, human rights, sovereignty and claim over West Philippine Sea and resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Church people must discuss these issues inside and outside activities of the Church.
Is there a Church vote? There are votes of the faithful in this Christian country. Duterte himself said that he does not need the “Catholic votes.” He can count on the votes of the Iglesia ni Cristo. He can also count on the votes of the Quiboloy’s members and other evangelical churches. He can mobilize the fanatical groups to vote for his candidates. The faithful of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches must be counted on by the progressive and opposition candidates.
The Philippine Churches must encourage their members to vote based on issues. They must guide their members in voting for rightful candidates based on issues. They must guard their votes. They must protect their votes against the devils that wander.
The ‘kill, kill, kill’ campaign and tirades against the Church by Duterte regime may continue even after the 2019 May Elections. It will even intensify if the results of the elections favored the progressive candidates and party-lists.
The ‘kill, kill, kill’ policy and rants against the Church must stop. The Duterte government must be stopped. The 2019 May Elections is an arena to act and work for. It does not mean that other options of struggle are irrelevant and unnecessary, especially the mass movement and armed struggle.