Is Duterte the right choice? 4 bishops ask
FOUR Catholic bishops Monday raised questions about the fitness of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to lead the country after the presidential candidate joked about an Australian lay missionary who was raped during a hostage crisis in 1989.
The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) asked Filipino voters to judge for themselves whether Duterte was the right choice for the presidency.
To help them decide, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas shared on his Facebook account a link to the controversial video clip of the mayor making a joke about the rape and killing of 36-year-old Australian Jacqueline Hamill.
At a campaign rally in Quezon City on April 12, Duterte spoke about the killing of Hamill and four other missionaries in his city in 1989. She and other women hostages also were raped.
Duterte said he was angered because Hamill was so beautiful and the prisoners took turns raping her when “the mayor should have been first.”
“They did it ahead of the mayor. Kill them all,” the mayor recalled saying during the 1989 hostage-taking inside the Davao Metrodiscom headquarters.
On his social media account on Sunday, Villegas said: “Judge for yourself if this is the right choice. I will keep my personal judgment to myself. This video can help you see.”
Duterte’s comments drew outrage from his rivals and the public, particularly on social media.
Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely tweeted late Sunday that “rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialized.” She added that “violence against women and girls is unacceptable anytime, anywhere.”
Amid the furor, Duterte admitted that he uttered those words and said sorry for the “gutter language.” But he said he just wanted to express his anger about the heinous crime.
Elect decent leader
In Cebu City, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma advised Filipinos to elect a leader decent enough to face leaders of other nations.
“When we elect people in power, we expect them to serve, but at the same time they should also relate with other people in many parts of world,” Palma told reporters after presiding over a Mass and diaconate ordination at Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Monday.
Palma was asked to comment on Duterte’s controversial remarks about the gang rape of Hamill.
“What if this kind of joke will spread to other people from different parts of the world? Can we feel at ease with that kind of person?” the 66-year-old prelate asked.
Palma, a former CBCP president, said it would be up to the electorate to decide whether to vote for a person like Duterte.
“Are we happy with what he (Duterte) said? Do we agree with it? Some say it’s OK. Other say otherwise,” he said.
“The future of our country depends on the votes we make. The electorate should discern and decide. That is where the power of the ballots come,” Palma added.
He encouraged the faithful on Election Day to pray for honest and clean polls as well as for Filipinos to choose the best leaders for the country.
Retired Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez urged the people to watch the video clip so they would know the candidate they would be voting for on May 9.
“It would be good to know what is in the video to help them in deciding,” the prelate said.
Iñiguez also said that for the presidential election, voters should strive hard getting to know all the candidates before casting their ballots.
“I think that’s what we lack. We really don’t know the candidates that we are voting for,” the retired bishop told reporters.
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz described Duterte as “rude and crude,” saying that the longtime mayor may have forgotten that his crass language and “jokes” that are acceptable in the province will not be given the same reception elsewhere.
“I cannot say that he is a bad person but definitely he does not belong to the people with good manners and right conduct,” Cruz told the Inquirer in a phone interview Monday .
Following Duterte’s joke that seemed to make rape a laughing matter, Cruz said he was having second thoughts about voting for the mayor. “After that, I find it hard to vote for him,” he said.
Last December, Villegas had already encouraged the faithful to seriously think about the kind of leadership that Duterte would offer to the country.
“Vulgarity is corruption. When we find vulgarity funny, we have really become beastly and barbaric as a people,” Villegas said in a statement after Duterte gave a speech during his proclamation, where he cursed Pope Francis for the heavy traffic triggered by the papal visit in January last year.
Villegas asked: “Is this the leadership by example that Mayor Duterte excites in us? Is this the leadership by example that makes a public official deserving of the title ‘honorable?’” With a report from Estrella Torres
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.