MANILA, Philippines — “The time for appeasing Duterte is over.”
This was part of the statement of Roman Catholic priest Fr. Amado Picardal following the recent threat of President Rodrigo Duterte to Catholic bishops.
“The threat of violence is meant to intimidate the leaders of the Church, to instill fear in their hearts so that they will remain silent and will not be a threat to his authoritarian rule,” Picardal said in a statement on Thursday.
“The time for appeasing Duterte is over. Dialogue with someone who intends to destroy the Church is futile,” he added.
Picardal also noted past pronouncements of the President that which he said “one does not expect from any sane government leader.”
These include Duterte’s tirades against Bishop Pablo David and the Catholic Church.
“Earlier on, he falsely accused Bishop Pablo David of stealing from the church’s offerings and suspected him of being an addict. He threatened that if he catches him involved in drugs, he will behead him. In another speech, Duterte told Catholics to stop going to church and build their own chapels at home,” Picardal said.
“Statements like these are unprecedented which no previous president in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world have ever done,” he added.
Picardal said that with these remarks, it “appears that Duterte has stepped up his war on the Catholic Church in the Philippines which he regards as the enemy.”
However, the priest said that instead of engaging in a “word war” with the President, the church should just continue to pray for the country’s leader.
To pray that the President “will repent and undergo conversion after finally listening to his conscience, that he will experience inner healing, that he will reconcile with the Church into which he was baptized, that he will become compassionate, that he will fulfill his promises, that he will make amends for whatever wrongs he has committed.”
Picardal is known to have helped document the alleged extrajudicial killings in Davao City when Duterte was still a city mayor.
He also biked 1,500 kilometers from Baclaran in Parañaque City in Metropolitan Manila to Iligan City in Northern Mindanao to protest against the extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs.
In 2011, Picardal embarked on a “Run/Walk Pilgrimage for Life and Peace in the Philippines,” a 2000-kilometer journey from Davao to Aparri.
According to one of Picardal’s blog post which documented his “pilgrimage on foot,” he brought with him four “pro-life concerns.”
Through his run, he expressed support for the peace process between the government and revolutionary groups.
Picardal also carried his opposition to the “ongoing destruction of the environment” caused by logging, coal mining and coal-fired power plants and called for the total ban on the said operations.
He also denounced the extrajudicial killing “perpetrated by death squads in Davao and other cities in the Philippines.”
Lastly, the priest expressed opposition to the Reproductive Health Bill that was then being debated by Congress.
In 2012, President Benigno Aquino signed the Reproductive Health Bill last December 21, now known as Republic Act 10354./ac
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