"Why is President Duterte so hostile to the Catholic clergy?"
Minions of President Rodrigo Duterte are trying to contain the damage done by the Presidential Management Staff’s attempt to make bishops and priests leave the Balangiga town plaza during the ceremonial turnover of the historic bells in Eastern Samar.
This was the aftermath of a Facebook post made Saturday afternoon by the Diocese of Borongan Crispin Vasquez. He said that the archbishop of the military ordinariate of the United States and the Apostolic Nuncio were “told to go out” of the plaza.
The post also said that the President wanted just his friend, Archbishop of Davao Romulo Valles, to be in the area. Some priests were even supposedly asked to take off their Roman collars so they would not offend Duterte, who had criticized Catholic priests and bishops in his previous remarks.
To add insult to injury, seats were placed in front of priests’ seats “to cover them.”
Obviously, the President’s staff were out to prevent the President from seeing his critics in front of him. Except Valles, that is.
The post, however, has been denied by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
Which is the truth? I would rather believe the post of the Borongan bishop. But I can’t blame Andanar, either. It is his duty to lie for the President.
This incident leads us to question why President Duterte hates the Catholic Church so much. I can’t believe this is all because of the clergy’s criticism of his bloody war on drugs,
Duterte has shown his disdain for the Church from the start. Recall he even cursed Pope Francis for causing traffic during his visit here. He called the Church the most hypocritical institution. He later enumerated instances of corruption and sexual abuse by members of the clergy.
We return to the question—why?
In my 70 years as a journalist, I have never seen a president hating the Church so much. The late Jaime Cardinal Sin was the foremost critic of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, but even Marcos did not carry so much hatred.
Despite this, I am not ready to judge President Duterte. Only God can do that. All I am saying is that the faith of millions of Catholics has not at all diminished. It’s the President’s credibility that is being diminished.
I am not an alarmist, but the P20-billion project of the Department of the Interior and Local Government to install 12,000 closed circuit television cameras in Metro Manila and Davao City by China Telecom should be looked into. China Telecom is owned by the Chinese government.
The agreement has reportedly been reached between DILG Secretary Eduardo Año and China Telecom during the recent visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The funding would come from the controversial 2019 budget.
Senate President Protempore Ralph Recto has in fact filed a resolution to investigate the project which was among the 29 deals agreed upon during Xi’s visit.
Recto has raised the fear that the surveillance project could become a national security issue. He also said that this would cause the Chinese to gain access to Philippine National Police big data—and Filipinos will be paying for it.
The administration needs to be transparent about other big-ticket projects it has entered into with China. Most Chinese firms are state-owned.
I congratulate Makati Mayor Abby Binay for the unveiling of the scale model of the Makati subway and its ceremonial drilling. This signaled the start of the work on the project. Abby’s father, former Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is also running for Congress, was present to show support for his daughter.
As I said before, this subway project may well be Mayor Abby’s legacy. It will be the first of its kind in the metro.
Once completed, the system will serve up to 27,000 passengers per hour per direction. The system also promises an interval of three to six minutes between trains.
A small group of city councilors tried their best to derail the project, but they failed.
Now these councilors are trying to hold hostage the plan of Mayor Abby to provide more benefits to senior citizens.
Warning: I am told that people around Regions 1, 2, and 3 and millions from Metro Manila seem to be going to Baguio City so much that it takes twice the time to get there, with Kennon Road closed. They also say the road going to the city proper has become a big parking lot.
I will happily stay in Metro Manila during this holiday season.