A blatant farce

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1511

INTIMIDATION and fear have always been a familiar tool in dictatorial regimes. While others use them with subtlety and cunning, some despots prefer a more unrefined and haphazard manner in showing the whole world that decency and diplomacy, which are the demands of democracy, are the last things they care about.

Last July, four bishops and three priests were charged with inciting sedition against the government. Others including Jesuit priest Fr. Albert Alejo were accused of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. As if the charges weren’t ridiculous enough, the complaint was filed by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group basing it primarily on a sworn statement by Peter Joemel Advincula, alias “Bikoy,” the same man who went viral after tagging the President and his family in illegal-drugs operation.

It has never been a crime according to the laws of our land to speak against the government’s policies that go against morality and the right to life. In fact, our very democracy guarantees that opposing views should be heard and that those who have something to say should be given a voice. When bishops and priests speak out against inhumane policies, they are simply doing their job as conscientious citizens.

As president of the country, Duterte has the principal duty to ensure that democratic exchanges take place so that certain views may be evaluated and that the powers that be may be held in check.

But instead, what we have is a dictator who takes pleasure in making offensive remarks but not man enough to take such remarks when they’re pointed at him. This is one person who relishes dishing it out but cannot take it. Always sporting the braggadocio of machismo and making misogynistic remarks, he turns sissy and whines and sobs hysterically when he’s criticized. This one sissy doth protest too much.

At the outset, Duterte claims to be ushering in an era of peace. But three years have passed and what we see in addition to a society fueled by more anger and violence, is a government that would gag and silence anyone who comes in its way until finally no one would dare speak. This is Duterte’s brand of “peace.”

However, any peace built upon fear is fragile and is destined to break. The only way to counter a government which uses fear as a mechanism for control is for citizens to stand their ground and show that they are not afraid. To be fair, the Church has its share of errors and shortcomings. But this does not delegitimize its cause in seeking a more just and humane society.

To throw tall accusations against Church leaders despite unfounded bases is shameful. The government only continues to disgrace itself by using tactics which are obviously false and contrived. Duterte’s hunger for blood is now being directed against Church leaders and clergy men. And because he cannot find any fault in their character nor link them with any illegal activity, he desperately pulls off one stunt after another which only adds hilarity to his ever-increasing notoriety.

For what seems a stroke of divine justice, Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde recently resigned from his post following the “ninja cops” controversy linking him to illegal-drug recycling activity. And as for the President, his health condition is not getting any better. By now he should be familiarizing himself with holy writ which says that “no one has ever attacked the Lord’s anointed and remained unpunished.”

If the administration thinks that it could silence its critics by trumped-up charges, it is largely mistaken. As long as there are people who would not be dissuaded by powerplay and political tactics and continue to fight for the rights of the oppressed and the marginalized, despotic regimes will be doomed to self-destruction.

It is nonsensical and downright laughable that Duterte accuses the bishops in of destabilizing the government when he freely let loose derogatory statements at anybody without impunity while his self-contradicting interpreter Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo would later call the remarks a joke. The Duterte administration does not need the help of bishops and priests in bringing it. Duterte and his men are doing a pretty good job at it on their own.

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