Don’t become a monster, Duterte cautioned
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Do not become a monster.
A known supporter of presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte had this advice to the tough-talking longtime mayor, saying power could be intoxicating.
“I hope that he remains true to his word that he will respect the laws of the land, he will not work outside of the law, that he will not work with death squads on a national scale, and therefore become a dictator that in hubris and excess may become a monster,” Ateneo de Davao University President Fr. Joel Tabora SJ said.
“Because once you feel you don’t need the law and you have so many followers, that power becomes very dangerous as we’ve seen in the past,” he said, adding that anyone—Duterte or even himself—was vulnerable to taking advantage of absolute power.
He, however, expressed understanding for Duterte’s unconventional ways and foul language, saying the public should instead just accept his “style,” expletives and all.
“I personally feel that he has a way of self-expression… It would be easier for people to understand him than for him to change at this point. I think this is his style, this is the way he’s been in politics in the past 20 years. I don’t think it’s realistic (to change),” Tabora said in a press conference here late Wednesday afternoon.
“I think he had tried the rid expletives away from his language and I don’t think it worked, so I think people are going to just accept that he is expressing himself differently,” he said.
Tabora even extolled Duterte as “clearly a man of the poor.”
“I think beyond the colorful words we get from Mayor Digong and his expletives, I think Digong has shown himself to be a man of the poor. I think that was what the people admired on him so greatly,” said Tabora, calling Duterte by his nickname.
As to Duterte’s abrasive stance towards the Catholic Church, Tabora said the conservative hierarchy could take this as a chance to reflect on itself.
“I think that the position that Mr. Duterte is taking can be interpreted to be a very powerful prophetic position, trying to help the Church also to reflect on itself and to reflect on its own ability to be the Church of the poor that it has for many years proclaimed itself to be,” said Tabora.
“He’s saying I’m not a saint, but you’re not saints either. So I think he’s saying “I have a love for the poor, maybe instead of knocking me down, maybe we should work together. Because if you continue to knock me down, I’m going to knock you down. I’m going to knock you down more,” said Tabora.
Duterte had recently called the Catholic Church as “the most hypocritical institution,” saying bishops have asked favors from politicians, including himself. He even taunted the Church hierarchy for his landslide victory despite the call against voting for him.
Tabora said the Church should listen to the people’s voice, considering that “a great number of people who voted for him are Catholics” despite the Church’s campaign against him.
“The hierarchy has to listen to this. What [are] the people of God saying in their choice of leader who was so very different from the bishops? So I think that this President is ushering in for us all who are Catholics a period of deep reflection on what we are saying about ourselves, and how we are actually implementing it,” Tabora said. RAM
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