Duterte blasts priests: You have no moral ascendancy

Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2017 09:40 PM | Updated as of Jan 19 2017 10:43 PM

After telling priests to try using illegal drugs to better understand its negative effect on addicts, President Rodrigo Duterte again lashed out at priests who have wives, ride SUVs and use golden chalices, saying they have no moral ascendancy to lecture him about the war on drugs. 

Speaking in front of a Philippine National Police (PNP) oath-taking ceremony, Duterte said priests are crazy to criticize the government’s campaign against illegal drugs because if he does not “declare war,” the country will “go to the dogs.”

He also questioned the clergy’s right to criticize his actions when it needs to police its own ranks. 

"Anong ginawa ng simbahan? Kayong Simbahan ng Katoliko, milyon ang kita ninyo linggo-linggo all throughout the Philippines, karaming simbahan. Saan ang pera ng tao? Kami, ang pera namin explain namin sa tao...Kung mahusay ka na pari, ipaiintindi mo (sa tao) na mamamatay ka. Umalis ka sa droga. E di nakakatulong pa kayo."

Reiterating his previous experience of molestation at the hands of priest, Duterte said that for every wrongdoing that religious leaders accuse him of, he will also bring up one of theirs.

"What is your moral ascendancy in the Philippines? Religion?"

“You expose me, I expose you,” he said, and enjoined them to support his administration’s anti-drug efforts instead of being “hypocrites” and enjoying nice clothes, vehicles, homes, even a city such as the Vatican, while many Filipinos languish in poverty.

“Kung gusto niyo, showdown na, showdown na. If you cannot mend your ways, if you cannot even give justice to the small boys you have molested in the past, you do not have the moral ascendancy. Sanctity of life,” he said, referring to the Church’s position against the death penalty, which is being pushed by his allies in Congress.

Cases of alleged corruption, sexual abuse and homosexual relations in seminaries, which were detailed in a book written by Aries Rufo, make the Church less than an ideal critic, he said.

The President also brought up a 2011 Senate blue ribbon committee inquiry into government spending during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, when bishops allegedly received as gifts, luxury vehicles bought using PCSO funds.

“Kayong mga pari, remember you asked, mga sasakyan kay Gloria [Macapagal Arroyo], knowing full well ang mga pulis nga walang masakyan, kayo mga Pajero pa,” he said.

He also challenged priests to bless his "narco-list" with holy water to see if it would solve the problem of narco-politics in the country. 

On Wednesday, in a speech in Nueva Ecija, Duterte “recommended one or two of the bishops” as well as priests to try shabu to understand the negative effects of illegal drugs.

This came after he sent a letter to Pope Francis, care of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, thanking the pontiff for visiting the Philippines in 2015.

“The Philippines values its special relations with the Holy See and regards with gratitude Your Holiness’ gracious stewardship of the Catholic faith,” Duterte’s letter read.

Upon seeing Dureza, Pope Francis said he will bless the Philippines and Duterte as well.

Catholics have been vocal in protesting alleged drug-related deaths, which included innocents mistaken for drug suspects. The Church has also objected to proposals to lower the age of criminal liability for minors, as well as the imposition of the death penalty.

Recently the Baclaran church exhibited photos of men and women who were allegedly violently killed in the name of the war against drugs.