Duterte won’t support rites marking PH Christianization
NAGA CITY, Cebu, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will not support the celebration of the quincentennial of Christianity in the Philippines purportedly because the faith was used by the Spanish as an instrument to subjugate the Filipino people.
“They came to this country as imperialists. We were not Spanish and they subjugated us for 300 years. That’s painful for me,” the President said at rites starting the construction of homes for victims of the Naga landslide on Sept. 20, 2018.
The President then proceeded to harangue the social ills that Spanish and American colonialism brought about in the country, including members of the elite who were complicit in the process.
He blamed the Spanish for the “feudal” land tenure system that was enforced not only in the Philippines but most of Latin America as well as the Filipino elite who helped perpetuate the injustice.
He also mentioned the US quota system that was meant to protect the Philippine cane sugar industry from the US beet sugar lobby but was later twisted to enrich the elite and impoverish the small farmer.
The President also mentioned the Spanish friar lands, many of which were acquired under dubious circumstances, became a cause of the Philippine Revolution of 1896 and continue to trouble the prevailing Torrens system.
“And yet, I was asked for a commemoration of the 500 years since [the Spanish] arrived here. I answered, ‘Why would I celebrate the arrival of the Spanish here? Why would I?’” the President said.
“It was good that my cousins got mad at them and cut off Magellan’s head. That made me happy,” said the President, who claims to be a descendant of Cebu chieftain Lapu-Lapu who defeated Ferdinand Magellan in April 1521.
Celebrate Christian faith
Despite the rhetoric, however, the President did issue on May 8, 2018, Executive Order No. 55 which created the National Quincentennial Committee tasked with leading preparations.
The 2021 commemoration was meant not only to mark the introduction of Christianity but also the 500th anniversary of Lapu-Lapu’s victory and Magellan’s first circumnavigation of the world.
Reacting to the President’s remarks, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said the commemoration in 2021 would not be a celebration of Spanish colonial rule but of the Christian faith.
David stressed that while Spanish colonizers did use Christianity “to pursue their colonial purposes,” the early Filipinos were “intelligent enough to accept what was good and reject what was evil in what the Spaniards had brought.”
“Let us therefore make it clear: What we will celebrate in 2021 is not colonialism but the Christian faith that the natives of these islands welcomed as a gift, albeit from people who were not necessarily motivated by the purest of motives. God can indeed write straight even with the most crooked lines,” David wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday.
David even claimed that Catholicism also “inspired” the anticlerical and Masonic leaders of the Philippine Revolution “to dream of freedom and democracy.” —Jovic Yee
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