Christian pastors back Duterte
MANILA — “Fight for the next generation. Please fight for us.”
In a gathering of a Christian organization in Cuneta Astrodome late last week, around 7,000 pastors under the G-12 network pledged support for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte — a candidate receiving flak for cursing, womanizing and being tagged as a murderer.
Seeing beyond Duterte’s brusque, uninhibited and most of the time, questionable demeanor, a Quezon City pastor was captured in a video praying for and challenging Duterte to be the person the fictional character Father Florentino was referring to in Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo.
Leo Carlo Panlilio, senior pastor of the Destiny-Church Manila, spoke and prayed before Duterte, challenging him to bring about the change the Filipinos, he said, have long been waiting for.
The video has gone viral in the community with more than 73,000 views and 2,000 shares since it was uploaded on social media late last week. The same lines were inscribed at the monument of the Oblation at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.
“Nasaan ang kabataang magaalay ng kanilang kasibulang buhay, ng kanilang adhikain at sagisag sa kabutihan ng bansa? Nasaan ang siyang puspusang magbubuhos ng dugo upang hugasan lahat ng ating kahihiyan, ang ating mga kalapastanganan, ang gating kabalintunaan? Tanging yaong walang bahid ang karapatdapat na maging alay upang matanggap ang kasalantaang ito.” (Where is the youth who will offer their life, their aspirations for the good of the country? Where is the person who will shed blood to wash away our shame, our humiliation? Only those unstained are worthy as offering…)
“Duterte is not without a flaw. In fact, he is [flawed] like everyone is, but I promise you all candidates curse, but [Duterte] does not hide that fact. He does not hide something to please people,” Panlilio said in an interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer, lauding the presidential aspirant for his transparency.
“The man has integrity. He has been in the position for years already, but no one yet has put up a case against him. The people he served, in fact, have been vouching for him. If he were doing something wrong, the people (he served) could have already complained against him. Look at Davao (City),” the pastor said.
“Technically, he is qualified. He is a lawyer, he knows the law, the justice system; he was a prosecutor, a politician with credentials and a real leader. People follow him, and he is the only candidate who is running who has served in the executive, legislative and judiciary.” he added. (A check of the credentials of all the presidential candidates shows that Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago also holds that distinction, having served as a judge during the martial law years, chief of the Bureau of Immigration and secretary of agrarian reform during the presidency of Corazon Aquino, and a senator for the last two decades.)
Capacity-wise, qualification-wise, Duterte is qualified, according to Panlilio, who stressed that he has been rooting for Duterte and his vice presidential candidate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.
Another pastor, Sheina Onrubia, also Albay’s 1st district councilor, lauded Duterte’s peace and order programs in Davao. “(Our) city has a surging crime rate. What the Philippines need right now is discipline,” she added.
Panlilio was not bothered by reports that Duterte resorted to extra-judicial killings in dealing with criminals in Davao City. “The Bible said the law is for those who are unruly. If you do not do something wrong, the law is not for you. His attitude on criminals would actually work for us, Panlilio said.
“Our justice system now is so flawed that we need a strong leader to implement the law,” Panlilio rued. Had Ferdinand Marcos become a righteous leader, things could have been better, he added, referring to the dictator who declared martial law in 1972 to stop the advance of communism and rampant crime but was ousted in 1986 following the assassination of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., the sharp decline of the economy, rampant human rights violations and corruption in government.
“We recognize the separation of church and state. But that does not mean the Church does not have and cannot have a say on issues that matter,” he added.
“We are not imposing our votes on anyone, including our people, but I believe our members trust us,” he said.
Panlilio talked about the qualifications of the other presidential bets. “Grace Poe can be the president, but for me, she has not proven herself yet. And just the fact that she once turned her back on this nation to be an American citizen, that does not make sense,” he added.
“Constitutionally, she may be qualified to run, but being an American Citizen, then running for the highest position in the land, that’s the greatest embodiment of being a Filipino. That is just unacceptable,” he said.
Mar Roxas, he said, lacked foresight. “You don’t need to be a leader to at least tame the MRT (Metro Rail Transit) problem. In fact, the MRT had deteriorated under him. In (supertyphoon) Yolanda (emergency), Roxas was out of his mind. He was waiting for the firemen, for the police. But they, themselves, are victims,” Panlilio recalled.
In his short word for Duterte, Panlilio lifted verses from the Bible’s Second Chronicles about the story of Nehemiah, a king’s servant who opted to rebuild and restore his nation’s wall.
For Panlilio, the task of rebuilding the Philippines’ wall is upon Duterte. “But only a man of purity can do the task,” he said, still with hopes high for a Duterte government, and for a Duterte “who will soon commit himself to the Lord.” SFM
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