Hard pill to swallow
T IS obvious President Duterte does not have facility with words. His mind revs up so fast his mouth cannot keep up with it and words are often left hanging on his lips when he launches another sentence. But he makes up for it with clarity of purpose and the will to achieve it.
In his latest State of the Nation Address (Sona) he was at times frustration personified but at other times political will incarnate, his face and body clearly showing a man steely determined to pursue to the end what he had set out to do when he took office.
Lodged between the two sides of the Duterte coin are the reasons for the frustrations that now drive him to pursue even more relentlessly his dream of, in his words, a comfortable life for all Filipinos.
Without in any way being facetious with a worn-out phrase, he called us to our face our own worst enemy. Politicians, public officials and government bureaucrats are incorrigibly selfish and corrupt. Yet small people, the victims, refuse to call out the former’s corruption to save their own hides. Patriotism or loyalty to the bigger community of the Filipino nation is simply an unknown quantity in this country.
The same in-between things are the very un-reasons for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in 2021. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, what is the Philippine Catholic Church proud of having accomplished all these years?
Yes, the number of Catholics has grown but the epidemic proportion of corruption among public officials and of the apathy of victims (85 percent of whom are Catholics) is grim evidence of the Catholic Church’s miserable failure to preach Christ’s message of love, justice and peace to Filipinos.
Many, probably most, of the corrupt, greedy, and incompetent public officials or bureaucrats, of the landowners or employers who refuse to give their tenants and workers living wages are presumably Church-going and Church-supporting Catholics. That makes us a bunch of hypocrites. The President is right to ask what God we are worshiping.
Duterte at least ended his speech by owning the accountability for what he has not done or has done wrongly for the country. But what can one man do? So, is there any chance Catholic bishops and clergy will own up to the accountability for what they have not done or have done wrongly for Christianity in this country?
It is a hard pill to swallow. Yet it is my firm belief that until Catholic bishops and clergy swallowed the accountability for the corruption of Catholic public officials/ bureaucrats and for the apathy of their victims this proudly Christian country will remain shamelessly unchristian to its citizens.
The President is right. We are our own worst enemy.*