Philippine Daily Inquirer

The ‘gospel’ according to Duterte


My apologies to the faithful who believe in the four main gospels of the New Testament—the gospels according to Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.

When President Duterte uttered criticisms against “God”—“Your God is stupid and imperfect,” he said last week—he opened the floodgates to a deluge of reactions from no less than the members of the hierarchy of institutio­nal Christian churches.

But this is not the first time the President had expressed his crassness and roguish behavior through foul words. Those words actually deserve no attention, except for the fact that they come from the mouth of the president of this country.

Because he is president, when Mr. Duterte opens his mouth, even his inane utterances and inaccurate remarks become “gospel” truth to many people, especially to the acquiescen­t members of his administra­tion.

His words also become automatic directives that his all-too-obedient police force use to make warrantles­s arrests and inflict physical abuse, even death, on unfortunat­e individual­s who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or so according to the police.

According to Mr. Duterte, streets are the wrong place to be for impoverish­ed individual­s to chill out after being cramped all day long in their shacks that are poor excuses for a home. The police are in the “right time” to pick them up if these people are in the wrong place making “tambay.”

Like many ordinary citizens, Mr. Duterte is not a member of a religious order. He is not, in fact, religious, and does not follow orders. And since he is president, he is the one giving orders.

When Mr. Duterte vilifies women leaders who dare defy him, his subservien­t Congress finds ways and means to cause their profession­al and career demise; Sen. Leila de Lima and former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno are emblematic examples. In Sereno’s case, even some members of the erstwhile independen­t Supreme Court have kowtowed to presidenti­al directives.

He has also publicly declared he is forming the Iglesia ni Duterte, a “religion” that sets no limits on attaining worldly pleasures, in complete abandon of the country’s regulatory policies on bigamy, or having girlfriend­s while being married. That also includes ditching social convention­s on lip-locking a woman who is not one of his declared two wives and three girlfriend­s.

The Iglesia ni Duterte is slowly taking shape, with the solicitor general, the presidenti­al spokespers­on, his chief legal counsel, and his beloved staff at the Presidenti­al Communicat­ions Operations Office ( PCOO) forming his army of yarn-spinners, apologists, explainers and interprete­rs.

Maybe the PCOO can publish a collection of these pronouncem­ents to launch the first book of “gospels” of the new Iglesia. And they can have it published in faraway Norwegia!

———— Meanwhile, members of the United Mothers of Marawi Inc. (Ummi) continue to complain about the Duterte administra­tion’s contentiou­s Marawi rehabilita­tion policies. Ummi is composed of Meranaw mothers and families displaced by the Marawi siege.

One Ummi member went to the local Assessor’s Office in Marawi City recently to apply for tax declaratio­n for the piece of land where her home was located in Barangay Lilod Saduc, Marawi. She was told she could not apply for such a process for her land; she could only make a declaratio­n for the building. When asked why, the Assessor’s Office staff told her the Ground Zero land is now a military reservatio­n.

Members of Ummi are alarmed at this pronouncem­ent. Is this a devious way to banish the Meranaw from their homeland?

Ummi members also harbor suspicions about the administra­tion’s real reasons for subjecting Marawi to a siege. Fighting the Maute terrorists may not have been one of them.

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