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FROM THE MANILA TIMES

BY YEN MAKABENTA: DID POLICE GET WRONG MESSAGE FROM DUTERTE SPEECHES AT POLICE CAMPS?


JANUARY 24 -Jee Ick-joo, former Executive of Hanjin, a South Korean businessman was squeezed on his neck until he died death inside Camp Crame after he was kidnapped. COURTESY OF TRENDINGNEWSPORTALS.COM First Read. Here’s the riddle (mystery) that should haunt us Filipinos amidst our collective shame and anguish over the kidnapping, murder and cremation of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo by police operatives in October last year: Since his accession to office on June 30, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has visited and addressed no group more frequently or affectionately than the camps and units of the Philippine National Police (PNP). He addressed the police more times than the armed forces and business groups. These speeches are notable because they are the ones where he presumably made the case for the urgency and necessity of his war on illegal drugs. These are the ones where he lambasted no end President Barack Obama, UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon, the European commission, and human rights organizations. There he made the valid argument for Philippine sovereignty in the conduct of the drug war. There he waged war on international media for reporting and questioning the extra-judicial killings (EJKs) of thousands. It was in these speeches also where he promised to raise the salaries of law enforcers, and to provide them protection if they are charged for offenses committed while doing their duty. I raise this matter now in order to express my perplexity on why members of the PNP went on to commit multiple crimes against citizens and foreign guests, after being given so much attention and solicitude. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Ricardo Saludo - Why President Duterte needs the Catholic Church


JANUARY 24 -Ricardo Saludo
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity,religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tributeof patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, thesefirmest props of the duties of men and citizens. — George Washington [W]hile I am a stickler for the principle of separation between Church and State, I believe quite strongly that there should never be a separation between God and State. — Rodrigo Duterte THE founding father of the United States of America and the leading political thinker of the Renaissance believed it was indispensable for nationhood. So does the current Chief Executive of the Philippines, as he said in his State of the Nation Address last July. In the history of nations, religion not only shapes a people’s identity and culture. Its moral discipline, enforced by belief in divine justice in this life or the next, helps immensely in keeping citizens obedient to law and respectful of authority. So why is President Rodrigo Duterte lambasting Catholic bishops and priests, whose stern admonitions on four-fifths of Filipinos under their sway do much to fight lawlessness and the lure of wanton living, including narcotics, on which he wages war? Whatever the reason, it’s really not good for law enforcement if people lose respect for the Church and faith in its preaching. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Kit Tatad - Putting Mamasapano’s ghosts to rest


JANUARY 28 -FRANCISCO S. TATAD
FOR the first time since President Rodrigo Duterte embarked upon his extra-judicial drug killings, even his most severe critics are in total agreement with what he is saying, although not about his war on drugs or the killings. He says that his predecessor, former President B.S. Aquino 3rd, should be made to answer for the death of 44 Special Action Force troopers in the Mamasapano, Maguindanao massacre of January 25, 2015. Only the Yellows (the Aquino loyalists) will object to this, so he has scored. Many feel this is not the only crime for which Aquino must be held to account. They believe he should similarly be prosecuted for bribing the members of Congress to railroad the highly divisive Obama-dictated Reproductive Health Law, which DU30 is now determined to implement, and to impeach and remove the late former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, which completely destabilized the Judiciary. Some lawyers believe Aquino’s corruption of Congress effectively nullified the RH Law and Corona’s removal, a legal issue which should now be raised before the Supreme Court in appropriate proceedings. They also believe that together with former Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Aquino should be criminally prosecuted for illegally diverting close to P200 billion from the General Appropriations Act into various purposes not authorized by Congress, under the infamous Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which the Supreme Court subsequently struck down as unconstitutional. READ MORE...

ALSO By R. Tiglao: Duterte’s legacy - Liberation from religion?


JANUARY 28 -RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO THAT seems unlikely, as Catholicism has brainwashed over 20 generations of Filipinos, as Christianity has Western civilization for about two centuries, and its hold on people’s superstitious minds will probably last for another millennium. Still, President Duterte is not only the first Philippine President ever, but also the first national or even local political leader of note, to take on the Church, and to show his disdain for it. He minced no words last Tuesday: “You are in palaces while your faithful are in squatter areas and then you talk about sanctity? What is your moral ascendancy in the Philippines?” Religion? What is the meaning of it?”  “I challenge the Catholic Church. You are full of s**t. You all smell bad, corruption and all,” the President said on Tuesday. Nobody but only the kind of person Duterte is could have spewed such vitriol on the Church: “Gago”, he described himself, using that term to mean an unorthodox person who does what he thinks is right and doesn’t care what others think about him. With those kind of words, and his relentlessness—remember his cursing of the Pope for causing traffic in the election period? – in criticizing the Church, Duterte is at least lighting a candle in the vast dark landscape of Filipinos’ worldview, by which they would risk life and limb to touch a wooden statue so they’d get a boon from the Deity, such as visa to the US or a brand-new SUV.*


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Did police get wrong message from Duterte speeches at police camps?


YEN MAKABENTA

MANILA, JANUARY 30, 2017 (MANILA TIMES) BY YEN MAKABENTA ON JANUARY 24, 2017 OPINION ON PAGE ONE First Read -Here’s the riddle (mystery) that should haunt us Filipinos amidst our collective shame and anguish over the kidnapping, murder and cremation of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo by police operatives in October last year:

Since his accession to office on June 30, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has visited and addressed no group more frequently or affectionately than the camps and units of the Philippine National Police (PNP). He addressed the police more times than the armed forces and business groups.

These speeches are notable because they are the ones where he presumably made the case for the urgency and necessity of his war on illegal drugs. These are the ones where he lambasted no end President Barack Obama, UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon, the European commission, and human rights organizations. There he made the valid argument for Philippine sovereignty in the conduct of the drug war. There he waged war on international media for reporting and questioning the extra-judicial killings (EJKs) of thousands. It was in these speeches also where he promised to raise the salaries of law enforcers, and to provide them protection if they are charged for offenses committed while doing their duty.

I raise this matter now in order to express my perplexity on why members of the PNP went on to commit multiple crimes against citizens and foreign guests, after being given so much attention and solicitude.

READ MORE...

Sensational crimes by police

I refer particularly to two highly explosive crimes and scandals:

The murder in jail of former Albuera. Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, which was perpetrated according to the National Bureau of Investigatin (NBI) by members of the PNP Criminal Detection and Investigation Group (PNP CDIG – Region 8).

The kidnapping and murder of the South Korean businessman within the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, parpetrated by police operatives, on the pretext that he was under suspicion of trafficking in illegal drugs.

Did the police officers and operatives accused in these crimes attend DU30’s pep talks for the police.

Were they roused to do their duty and enforce the law, or were they inversely emboldened to flout the law, because of the seeming presidential message that they had a license to kill?

Most of these speeches are on the records and files of government television and the private networks, because many speaking occasions were broadcast live and rerun by the networks.

I listened to some of these speeches, because they were on every time I turned on the TV set.

It was then that I got the impression that the President delivered the same speech and the same message on these occasions. Every speech was extemporaneous.

I wondered whether the president would explain on these occasions the basis for declaring a war on drugs, and the justification for the policy of killing drug suspects, be they drug lord, drug pushers or just drug addicts.

No data on drug situation


Jee Ick-joo, former Executive of Hanjin, a South Korean businessman was squeezed on his neck until he died death inside Camp Crame after he was kidnapped. COURTESY OF TRENDINGNEWSPORTALS.COM

The President never unraveled data and statistics on the Philippine drug situation to explain his drug policy. He did not provide corroboration or documentation from the country’s two drug agencies, the Dangerous Drugs Board, and the Phlippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). He did not do so, because the agencies’ knowledge of the situation differed from his working figure of four million drug addicts and the extremely dire future awaiting the nation if the drug menace is not snuffed out.

I did not see a single instance in these speeches where the President took the trouble to remind the police that their primordial duty is the protection of the citizenry and keeping the peace in our neighborhoods.

I looked in vain for the subtle shift from the theme of protection to the theme of killing in the President’s rhetoric,

Instead, the unfortunate message that came across was a presidential assurance of protection for law enforcers who are charged for violations in the drug war.

If the theme of responsibility of the police was conveyed at all , it was as the responsibility of the PNP to exterminate the drug menace.

Did SPO3 Ricky Santa Isabel, the principal accused in the Jee murder, attend the DU30’s pep talks for the police? If he did, did he get the wrong message?

Was it during these talks that the plan for kidnapping the Korean on the pretense of a drug raid, and the companion plan of extorting money from his wife, were cemented and emboldened the perps?

The alarming conclusion is that instead of reinforcing devotion to duty and rule of law by the police, DU30 may have unwittingly emboldened them to commit criminal acts.

Rule of law breakdown?

An international human rights organization has linked the killing of the South Korean businessman to President Duterte’s campaign against drugs and crime.

Human Rights Watch deputy director Phelim Kine said Jee’s killing is “an ominous indicator of the breakdown of rule of law under President Rodrigo Duterte.”

Kine described Jee’s killing as “notably grotesque” in line with existing killings from the campaign against drugs, which is the centerpiece of the Duterte administration.

PNP chief Gen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa bristles at the link between the drug war and the Jee killing, claiming that similar crimes were more prevalent in previous administrations.

But Kine says that the environment under Duterte has made it ripe for crooked policemen to go into crime.

“Philippine police have good reason to believe that they can literally get away with murder. Duterte has pledged effective immunity for police who kill in the name of his drug war. He underscored his own personal contempt for human rights and rule of law on December 12 when he publicly announced that he had personally killed suspected drug users and dealers while mayor of Davao City,” Kline said.

Who has the responsibility?

The problem, let’s face it, is at the door not only of the drug war, but at the door of the President.

Duterte’s winning campaign for the presidency was anchored on the restoration of law and order in the country. The way things are turning out, the national police under his watch has become a force for lawbreaking, and only rarely a force for law enforcement.

It is doubly unfortunate that Gen. Dela Rosa, an amiable police chief, is taking most of the heat for these dastardly acts within his turf. All his histrionics (weeping and wiping his shaved head) notwithstanding, he cannot avoid responsibility for all that has gone wrong with the PNP under his charge.

Neither can President Duterte escape responsibility for what his self-declared drug war may have wrought.


Why President Duterte needs the Catholic Church BY RICARDO SALUDO ON JANUARY 24, 2017 OPINION ON PAGE ONE


Ricardo Saludo

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity,religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tributeof patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, thesefirmest props of the duties of men and citizens. — George Washington

[W]hile I am a stickler for the principle of separation between Church and State, I believe quite strongly that there should never be a separation between God and State. — Rodrigo Duterte

THE founding father of the United States of America and the leading political thinker of the Renaissance believed it was indispensable for nationhood. So does the current Chief Executive of the Philippines, as he said in his State of the Nation Address last July.

In the history of nations, religion not only shapes a people’s identity and culture. Its moral discipline, enforced by belief in divine justice in this life or the next, helps immensely in keeping citizens obedient to law and respectful of authority.

So why is President Rodrigo Duterte lambasting Catholic bishops and priests, whose stern admonitions on four-fifths of Filipinos under their sway do much to fight lawlessness and the lure of wanton living, including narcotics, on which he wages war?

Whatever the reason, it’s really not good for law enforcement if people lose respect for the Church and faith in its preachings.

READ MORE...

What if Filipinos discard their faith?


Earlier photo from GMA NEWS NETWORK: CBCP, through its head Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas vigorously campaigning vs Duterte during PH elections campaign in March 2016, issued a warning to Filipino voters about Duterte. He also slammed Duterte’s platform of violence against criminality saying it is against christian moral values.

As this column argued in our May 30 article last year, speaking of then-President-elect Duterte: “He can’t deliver on his winning pledge to eradicate crime and corruption if the Catholic Church ever lost its moral authority over the great majority of Filipinos.

“Imagine if most of the 85 million baptized Catholics in the country water down the religion’s key tenets, and pick and choose which of the Ten Commandments to follow.

“Indeed, millions already discard the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, while countless others break the Fifth and the Seventh. (If people don’t know that the first two prohibit illicit sex, while the latter ban killing and stealing, that only underscores the problem.)

“What if Duterte actually succeeds in convincing tens of millions of Filipino Catholics that they don’t have to listen to bishops and priests because of abuses and hypocrisy by some clerics? Would that lead to more or fewer people killing, stealing, and deviating from traditional family values?

“Would eroding Catholicism’s influence increase or decrease lawlessness, sleaze, drug addiction, violence, family breakups, juvenile delinquency, and all the other social ills Duterte rails against? Or does religiosity advance lawful, virtuous living?

“And which would help win the battle against lawlessness—quarreling with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, or persuading the CBCP to issue pastoral letters and institute sermons, prayers, and parish programs enjoining tens of millions of believers across the archipelago to abide by the law, support law enforcement, eschew corruption, and strengthen family values as a bulwark against delinquency and drugs?”

Indeed, the Church certainly commands far more credibility and respect than the government. The Philippine Trust Index of 2015, the latest nationwide survey done by public relations company EON, counted nearly three-quarters of Filipinos (73 percent) trusting the Catholic Church, far ahead of the academe (51 percent), media (32 percent), and the government (12 percent).

Sure, President Duterte enjoys an excellent trust rating of more than 80 percent. But that’s an argument not for bashing the Church, but working with it, so that their combined high public credibility would mobilize the people to fight crime and drugs, instead of eroding each other’s lofty trust ratings

In short, Mr. President, you need the Filipino people’s centuries-old adherence to Catholic faith, morals and authority to fight the scourge of lawlessness and drugs.

The bishops also need Digong



At the same time, the Church needs President Duterte’s rough campaign against drugs and lawlessness.

Crime incidence tripled in the past administration, to more than 1 million a year starting 2013, from 324,083 in 2010. Imagine how many grave sins are committed every day, endangering the souls of millions of people.

Thankfully, after six months under Duterte, crime is down by one-third to one-half, depending on the type of offense. That means at least 3,000 murders prevented, along with 3,000 rapes, 20,000 robberies, and 75,000 physical injuries, based on 2014 data.

As for drug addiction, which enslaves souls to the demands of body and psyche, between 1 million and 3 million users are in narco-chains, their free will and consciences rendered largely incapable of exercising the moral choices which affirms the faithful’s faith, hope and love toward the Lord.

Even worse, millions of families are torn apart, hugely burdened, and even bloodied and beaten, as loved ones are driven to anger, depression, crime, and violence.

Except in a few families graced by God, can virtue flourish amid such entrenched vice?

And while killing outside of self-defense violates God’s law and can never be justified, the sad reality is that if the government relied solely on strict due process to fight drugs and crime, the syndicates and their protectors in government would just laugh, and more than a million drug users and pushers would still be sniffing and shooting, plus stealing, kidnapping, raping and killing under narco-influence or in hopes of getting cash for their habit.

But thank God, Church and State may be moving toward talking and walking together.

Last Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said of the Church: “Let’s try to reach out to one another and have a real dialogue and real conversation.”

“That is always the better solution to anything,” agreed Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos. “You listen to them, present everything, and let’s observe what are the things that we can work together and things that we are going to avoid.”

May Church and State find common cause for our nation’s sake. So help them God.


Putting Mamasapano’s ghosts to rest BY FRANCISCO TATAD ON JANUARY 27, 2017 OPINION ON PAGE ONE


FRANCISCO S. TATAD

FOR the first time since President Rodrigo Duterte embarked upon his extra-judicial drug killings, even his most severe critics are in total agreement with what he is saying, although not about his war on drugs or the killings. He says that his predecessor, former President B.S. Aquino 3rd, should be made to answer for the death of 44 Special Action Force troopers in the Mamasapano, Maguindanao massacre of January 25, 2015. Only the Yellows (the Aquino loyalists) will object to this, so he has scored.

Many feel this is not the only crime for which Aquino must be held to account. They believe he should similarly be prosecuted for bribing the members of Congress to railroad the highly divisive Obama-dictated Reproductive Health Law, which DU30 is now determined to implement, and to impeach and remove the late former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, which completely destabilized the Judiciary. Some lawyers believe Aquino’s corruption of Congress effectively nullified the RH Law and Corona’s removal, a legal issue which should now be raised before the Supreme Court in appropriate proceedings.

They also believe that together with former Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Aquino should be criminally prosecuted for illegally diverting close to P200 billion from the General Appropriations Act into various purposes not authorized by Congress, under the infamous Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which the Supreme Court subsequently struck down as unconstitutional.

READ MORE...

Most traumatic effect

Chronologically, the other crimes precede the massacre.

But Mamasapano had such a wrenching and traumatic effect upon our people that it deserves to be revisited even before any of the others are. For many reasons the official inquiries conducted by the Senate and the Philippine National Police (PNP) had failed to deliver the proper closure. For one, Aquino, the suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima, the AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Catapang, and Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero—all of whom had vital information to contribute—uniformly refused to be interviewed by the PNP Board of Inquiry.

DU30’s statement before the relatives of the fallen 44, on the second anniversary of the massacre, could finally lead to a closure. But DU30 must stand firm on irrefutable evidence against Aquino, and not equivocate. All the facts show that Aquino assumed full and direct personal responsibility for and control of the botched police operation (Exodus) when he removed the Secretary of Interior and Local Government (Mar Roxas) and the acting PNP Chief (Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina) from the PNP chain of command and replaced them with the suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima, who was no more than a plain outsider at the time, and SAF Commander Getulio Napenas, who was the “force provider.” From this followed a long train of problems.

The objective of Oplan Exodus was to neutralize the notorious terrorist, Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and two other confederates named Ahamad Akmad atabl Usman (Usman) and Amin Baco (Jihad). Aside from coordinating with Purisima, who was under suspension for an anti-graft case and therefore had no authority to do anything official, Aquino, who liked to play soldier, dealt directly with Napenas. On Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, while his siblings were celebrating their mother Cory Aquino’s birthday in Manila, Aquino flew to Zamboanga ostensibly to “inspect some housing projects for the victims of the last siege of Zamboanga,” but in reality, to monitor the SAF operations in barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, from within the Western Mindanao Command. Reports said he used drones that belonged to the Americans.

The SAF units were able to neutralize Marwan, and cut off a finger for DNA analysis, but they were quickly overrun by numerically superior forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Faced with certain death, they pleaded desperately for reinforcement, but what came down to the military units which were standing by to respond to the SAF commandos’ appeals, according to reports, was a “stand-down order” from the President, allegedly transmitted through the presidential adviser on the peace process, Teresita Quintos-Deles.

Did Aquino actually give the stand-down order? As President and Commander in Chief and chief operations officer of Oplan Exodus, he alone could have given that order, and no one else. If anybody else had given the order, he alone had the authority to recall and reverse it, and he was there. But it was still necessary to ask the question: did he give the “stand-down” order? This column alone repeatedly asked the question throughout the Senate and PNP inquiries, but it was never answered. Nor did anyone ever bother to ask it formally during the two separate inquiries.

Now, DU30 has confirmed it. He says Aquino left his own troops, badly outnumbered and helpless, to be massacred by the enemy. Of the 44 commandos killed, several were tortured and executed at close range. Sixteen others, who survived, suffered severe injuries. This is what we feel the President knows about what happened. What I fail to understand though is why DU30 still wants to constitute another board of inquiry, made up of three Supreme Court justices and some private individuals, after arriving at the conclusion that Aquino is culpable under the law and should be brought to justice. What will such a board do? Confirm what the President has already declared, or come up with some new “alternative truths?”

As the first enforcer of the law, the President should now order the filing of the appropriate charges, if he believes his predecessor is guilty, and give him his day in court. A court trial may not have the entertainment value of a board inquiry, which, if open to free TV coverage, could give the masses their latest telenovela, as a substitute for good governance from the President. But Aquino has a right to it, and the nation an even greater right to see that the doer of the crime, if crime has indeed been committed, is finally punished.

CIA involvement

In his statement, DU30 described the massacre as a botched CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) operation. He gave no details, and did not say whether he had talked to the US government and asked for an explanation or confirmation. Earlier reports had identified the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the source of the $5 million bounty on Marwan’s head, and as the source of information about his whereabouts, which was reportedly given to Purisima before his suspension from office. By the way, what happened to this $5 million bounty?DU30 himself wants to know. We would like to know. But the CIA and the FBI are two different institutions. Where the FBI may operate legally, the CIA may not.

The US Embassy denied any American involvement in the operation, even before anyone had suggested it. Then they said they were involved in airlifting the victims. Rumors, however, persisted that they airlifted “white-skinned” victims only, and left the SAF victims in the hands of the Philippine authorities. Rumors also continued about Caucasian casualties being sighted at the site of the massacre. As far as the PNP board of inquiry was concerned, “the United States was involved in the intelligence operations and medical evacuations. The US supported the operations by providing technical support to enhance monitoring of the troops on the ground.” The US also helped identify Marwan through DNA analysis of his severed finger.

How to prove DU30’s claim that Oplan Exodus was a CIA operation, even if true, would be a real problem, even for a major power. Will an inquiry made up of justices, whose task it is to rule on the law rather than unearth the facts, be able to do anything about it? What kind of facts, to begin with, does DU30 have to back up his public claim? Assuming he has the necessary facts, and was not merely theorizing, was talking about it the way he did before the audience he had, the most prudent and wisest way of handling such “facts”?

Badmouthing the bishops again

Before the same SAF widows and orphans, DU30 went back to his unprovoked abuse of the bishops and priests who have criticized his drug killings, accusing them of all sorts of offenses against their faith, which he despises. He went to the extent of defaming the innocent Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani of having “two wives” — just like himself, who proudly proclaims his sexual excesses. Not too long ago he tried to do something similar to Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla without any basis at all, after the prelate said that “what is wrong is wrong even if everyone does it, and what’s right is right even if nobody else does it.”

In a classic retort, the scholarly Bacani said, “I don’t have even one wife. I hope anyone who says I have two will produce even one. Poor guys who can only use lies against truth.” Caught flatfooted, DU30 then called on the public “to ignore” his tirades against the bishops. “Do not take my outbursts seriously,” he said. “That’s the way I am.” A moral derelict.

Will he now ask the US government, whose new President he is trying to win as a friend, not to take seriously his statement about the CIA’s alleged involvement in the Mamasapano massacre? Or is this his way of showing Donald Trump, who had an initial run-in with the US intelligence communities, that he is trying to help? This bears watching.

Apologizing to Korea but missing the point

In an unexpected development, DU30 apologized to the South Korean government for the death of the Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo in the hands of his police kidnappers inside the Camp Crame compound. The details of this murder have shocked the nation. “We apologize to the South Korean government and people for this irreparable loss. But we commit the full force of the law to ensure that justice is served and not delayed,” DU30 said through Ernesto Abella, his spokesman.

DU30’s behavior was in marked contrast to that of B.S. Aquino 3rd who refused to utter one word of apology for the death of several Hong Kong tourists in a bus hijacking incident in Manila at the beginning of his term in 2010. Aquino expressly said he would never apologize for the carnage; it took former President and now Mayor of Manila Joseph Ejercito Estrada to do so. For this DU30 clearly scored high points.

However, he fell short of the requirements of justice when he said that PNP Chief Rolando “Bato” de la Rosa, who is in charge of his war on drugs, enjoys his full trust and confidence and should not resign, as demanded by an enraged public. He is not guilty of criminal intent, DU30 pointed out, which was not incorrect. But he entirely missed the basic point. No one had accused Bato of being part of the fatal kidnapping, and no one expects him to own or share the kidnappers’ guilt. But what is involved here is the honor of the institution, not Bato’s personal innocence or guilt.

DU30 should have allowed Bato to profess that the honor of PNP has been tarnished, and that as PNP chief he could not allow himself to continue in office, after this disgraceful and unacceptable incident. At which point, DU30 could have stepped in and overturned Bato’s decision to quit. What a difference that would have made. But this shall go down as one of DU30’s missed opportunities.


Duterte’s legacy: Liberation from religion?  BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO ON JANUARY 27, 2017 OPINION ON PAGE ONE


RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

THAT seems unlikely, as Catholicism has brainwashed over 20 generations of Filipinos, as Christianity has Western civilization for about two centuries, and its hold on people’s superstitious minds will probably last for another millennium.

Still, President Duterte is not only the first Philippine President ever, but also the first national or even local political leader of note, to take on the Church, and to show his disdain for it. He minced no words last Tuesday: “You are in palaces while your faithful are in squatter areas and then you talk about sanctity? What is your moral ascendancy in the Philippines?” Religion? What is the meaning of it?”

“I challenge the Catholic Church. You are full of s**t. You all smell bad, corruption and all,” the President said on Tuesday.

Nobody but only the kind of person Duterte is could have spewed such vitriol on the Church: “Gago”, he described himself, using that term to mean an unorthodox person who does what he thinks is right and doesn’t care what others think about him.

With those kind of words, and his relentlessness—remember his cursing of the Pope for causing traffic in the election period? – in criticizing the Church, Duterte is at least lighting a candle in the vast dark landscape of Filipinos’ worldview, by which they would risk life and limb to touch a wooden statue so they’d get a boon from the Deity, such as visa to the US or a brand-new SUV.*

READ MORE...

Duterte is certainly treading on very dangerous ground in challenging religion. Confronting one’s beliefs developed since childhood is not for the faint of heart, as this wakes one up to the realization of an uncaring cold, universe. What if one wakes up in the middle of the night, and realizes that this – this life – is it, and there’s no magical territory one migrates to after death?


Philippine President, angry at His clerics

Indeed, most Filipinos choose, whether they realize it or not, to have as their mindset throughout their lives what is called Pascal’s Wager (which that 17th century philosopher and mathematician formulated): “If you believe in God, and He exists, you will be rewarded in heaven. And if he doesn’t exist, you won’t know about it, so its best to believe in God.”

First generations

Still though, it is challenging to realize that we are probably among the first generations of humankind to have the intellectual tools, and the vast information accumulated by civilization for two thousand years, that could be employed to determine what are superstitious beliefs (made by pre-scientific peoples to make sense of the universe) and what are not, using logical, data-based processes we call the scientific method.

A crude example of course is that we are certain that the sun doesn’t really rise (much less is it the chariot driven everyday across the firmament by the Titan Helios of ancient Greek mythology) in the East and set in the West. Rather, it is the Earth which is revolving around a medium-sized star, one among gazillions in the universe. And this wasn’t proven by the eyewitness accounts of astronauts who orbited the earth in space vehicles just in the past several decades. Long before them, it was deduced by the 16th century mathematician and astronomer using methods that would be developed to an astounding level of sophistication which we call science.

It is the same method — in certain disciplines called anthropology, linguistics, and comparative religious studies — that was employed to examine, starting in the 19th century, what most humans on earth believed were divine revelations written by the Deity’s ghost-writers, that is, “Messengers”, i.e., the Jewish Torah, the New Testament, and the Quran.

However, ancient documents have been even unearthed in the 20th century that shed light on the very human origins of these books that have been considered Words of God, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls in the case of the Torah and the Christian New Testament, and a Syrian-Aramaic text of the Quran.

Scholarship on the man called Jesus Christ and on the origins of Christianity has exploded, starting in the 1980s, given impetus by the so-called Jesus Seminar, a group of about 150 critical international scholars and laymen founded in 1985 that examined the Bible using modern anthropological, sociological and linguistic methods. There is now a magazine and its Web version called Biblical Anthropology, that studies, using the scientific method, almost every facet of society in biblical times. (Example of findings there is that Nazareth didn’t exist when Jesus was born, as the Bible reports; there was no census called to require the Holy Couple to go to Bethlehem.)

The writings of these scholars have been such that the debate is no longer whether Jesus is the Son of God – as the Bible claims – but whether he existed, or was merely a fictional character as unreal (but as powerful in impact on a civilization) as mythical gods like Apollo, Osiris and Zarathustra.

Roman invention

A recent intriguing scholarly book (Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus by Joseph Atwill) even argues that the Jesus myth was invented by the Roman emperors Vespasian and his sons, especially Titus, to create a religion that would counter the passionate belief for a coming military-religious leader termed Messiah of the Jews, who gave the Romans so much trouble that they decided to burn to the ground Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 A.D.

On the other hand, a book by a scholar argues that Muhammed did not exist at all (Did Muhamed Exist? An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins, by Robert Spencer), that it was an invention by the Arab military leaders to foster, as most religions have been, zeal in their conquests. How was it so easily invented? By hijacking the Syrian version of Christianity that was emerging in the 7th century, which explains why Islam officially believes in such biblical figures as Moses and Jesus. One interesting finding of one scholar on Islam is that the 72 virgins the Quran said jihadists would enjoy in Paradise was a mistranslation from the Syriac-Aramaic text. What the martyrs would enjoy would be raisins, then an expensive delicacy in the Arabian deserts that were out of reach for ordinary warriors.

One of the most uninformed, yet prevalent views is that Christianity can’t be wrong as it has survived for more than 2,000 years, despite its persecution.

This is so totally wrong. Christianity is one of the main religions of the world now, because it was the state religion of one of the biggest and most powerful civilizations the world has seen, Europe. It wasn’t a choice of the vast population of peasants whether to believe in Jesus or not; they had to, or else.

Similarly, Islam is one of the largest religions on earth, because it was the religion first of the Caliphates that emerged out of the Middle East to conquer vast swathes of the world, as far as India, and then of the Ottoman empire of the 13th century that even nearly overran Christian Europe.

That should explain why Mithra, Osiris and Zarathustra didn’t become the Deities of world religions because these didn’t become state religions of vast empires that neared the modern era.

If all Duterte does in his entire six years is to, through his tirades against the Church, make us think about these things, he will leave an important legacy to this nation of superstitious people.

(*”The first time I joined the Black Nazarene procession, I got my wish for a Tamaraw FX. This year I’m wishing for a Pajero,” a devotee said in an interview with an ABS-CBN reporter a few years back.)


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