The Philippine Star

Manila prelate: Don’t blame God for Duterte election

- – With Edu Punay, Paolo Romero

Amid efforts for a dialogue to settle issues between President Duterte and the Catholic Church, a prelate seemed not to support reconcilia­tion as he continued attacking the Chief Executive yesterday.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo again slammed Duterte and told the faithful not to blame God for having him as the nation’s leader.

In a blog post, Pabillo said Duterte’s election was not God’s will, in response to the question “Why did God give us Duterte?” which he claimed was raised in an e-mail.

“We cannot say vox populi, vox Dei that is, the voice of the people is

the voice of God. Not necessaril­y!” he stressed.

“God did not give us Duterte to be our president. The 16 million voters chose him to be President and he is now President,” Pabillo pointed out.

Pabillo explained that in a democracy, leaders are not divinely ordained but elected by the people as he even cited dictators in history.

“Many very bad leaders had been elected by their people. Let us just name (Adolf) Hitler, (Benito) Mussolini and even our (Ferdinand) Marcos. They came to power by election. Duterte was elected by 16 million voters, not even the majority of our 50 million voters in 2016. He is not even a majority president,” the bishop said.

The prelate recalled that the Church had cautioned the people about Duterte’s track record of killings in Davao, about his use of foul language, about his lack of respect for human rights and for women during the 2016 polls.

“Now in hindsight, have these cautions been proven to be true?” he asked.

Pabillo said he hopes that Filipino voters already learned their lesson and become better voters next time.

“We are in this mess not only because of Duterte but because of our (representa­tives in) Congress, our senators, our governors and the like who have no guts to stand up for what is right but are instead very subservien­t, for their main concern is their political future and not what is right and just and good for the people,” he alleged.

“In our desire for change and for a strong leader, hopefully we have learned the lesson not to be blinded by propaganda, like tough talk (which later proved to be empty) and now, social media,” added the vocal bishop, who has been perceived to be supportive of the political opposition due to his participat­ion in their events.

For his part, Sen. Panfilo Lacson yesterday urged President Duterte to act more like a statesman and watch his words as his scandalous statements are dividing Filipinos and distractin­g the nation from more urgent problems.

Lacson however stressed that he continues to support Duterte and reminded him that he is President of not only the more than 16 million voters who voted for him two years ago but 109 million Filipinos.

“I still hope the President can level-up a little on statesmans­hip so it could contribute greatly to unify our nation. If he always talks that way, we will be divided and won’t understand each other,” Lacson told dzBB.

Duterte’s latest statement that prompted Malacañang to seek dialogues with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippine­s and other religious groups “deepened the crevice” among Filipinos as it mocked their faith despite his clarificat­ion, said Lacson.

Aside from his statement calling God “stupid,” Duterte also again last week spoke about the alleged sex video of opposition Sen. Leila de Lima.

Duterte has been known for his colorful language since he was mayor of Davao City.

Lacson said such statements–no matter how Duterte or his aides downplay them – distract Filipinos from the need for the whole country to work together to confront challenges and diminishes the power of his political will.

He lamented that lack of a singular focus for progress among Filipinos as among the main reasons why the Philippine­s has remained poor.

Lacson cited Duterte for his decisivene­ss and sincerity but warned that he lacked consistenc­y in fighting graft and corruption as evidenced by his “recycling” of dismissed officials reportedly involved in anomalies.

“I see (a) double standard, he’s not consistent. He says strong words when removing officials but we see that he reappoints some of them,” he said.

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