MAASIN CITY- At his home town in Southern Leyte, President Rodrigo Duterte was apparently at his best, throwing rowdy antics and narrating past political exploits while making his ‘kababayans’ in Maasin City laughed as he defended himself against various criticisms hurled against his administration, particularly by the religious sector.
In his impromptu speech during the 58th anniversary of the province on July 2, Duterte asked everyone to listen to him alone instead of the noise created by his critics, saying he should be trusted as the people elected him into office.
“Masuko ba diay’g ingnong lain imong Ginoo? You know, God is what you conceive him to be. Lain-lain ta’g Ginoo eh (Why do you get mad if I hit your god? God is what you conceive him to be. We all have different gods),” the 73-year-old firebrand President said as he lashed out his opponents who used the name of “God” against him.
“Ang pagtuo nako sa Ginoo, katong natun-an nako sa akong mga ginikanan…Mao to’y akong Ginoong nahibaw-an. Dili pud nang Ginoo sa anang gamiton nimong plataporma, unya gamiton nimo ang Ginoo, muingon ka’g gabaan ka kay ang Ginoo mao ni, mao na (The god I know I learned from my parents…That’s the god I know. Not the gods of those who use god as a platform, to warn of karma)…,”Duterte said in vernacular.
While he defended his own belief about God, he maintained that “God is all forgiving.”
Duterte added that his own version of “god” is better than that of his opponents.
“They said god will put me in hell. That’s crazy. My god has no heaven or hell. Do you think god is stupid to create hell?” Duterte asked.
He also reasoned out that there is no truth about hell or purgatory which are found in the traditional Roman Catholic teachings.
“Even purgatory is not true. There is heaven, but do not believe that St. Peter guards the gates….,” the President, who is also a Catholic, said in reference to the Biblical passage on Peter denying Jesus three times before a chicken crowed.
While Duterte admitted that a dialogue has been ongoing with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which has been attacking his bloody anti-drug campaign, he said that he is not out for a fight with the Catholic Church.
“I don’t like a fight. I will have a dialogue with the CBCP. (Archbishop Romulo) Valles is from Bohol. We understand each other. He is very kind. As long as he works on his own and I work on my own, we will have no problem. If your heaven is not true, come here to my heaven. And if my heaven is not true, let me enter your heaven,” the President said in his native language.
A Palace official also confirmed that Duterte and Valles would be meeting on July 9 next week, this after Mr. Duterte was met with strong opposition over his “God is stupid” remark.
Meanwhile, a priest in the Archdiocese of Palo also saw something “good” over the recent “God is stupid” remark of Duterte which created a furor among the Catholic leaders and conservative majority.
“At the end of the day, all of this ‘Your God is stupid’ snafu will also bring out good fruit for the Church; I’ve contemplated, also looking back at her long history (others have come up with this realization long before me, and I won’t be the last), that hard times for the Church are good times for her. Times of persecution and hardship are times of clarity,” said 35-year old Fr. Mark Ivo Velasquez.
With Duterte’s harsh pronouncement against the Catholic Church and its faithful, Velasquez said that this may also bring any form of renewal to the Church and its men.
“Pastors are presented with the challenge of revamping their catechism styles (that is, if they do any catechism at all. Parish priests get to see in a renewed light the importance of educating their parishioners in the faith (this is what catechesis means). Priests receive impetus in making their presence seen and felt in their communities, barangays, local schools,” the priest said in his post in his Facebook account.
“Thank you, Mr. President sir, for granting the stage and the opportunity for our catholic communities and clergy to become truly relevant than before! The Church is a seed, the smallest of all seeds… only in burying it could it grow to become the biggest of trees. Such is the work of the Lord, and it is wonderful in our eyes!” Velasquez said. (Ronald O. Reyes)