For the longest time, the country has reinforced the separation between the Church and State despite being predominantly Catholic. The Constitution declared that the State shall not establish or prohibit a religion. Despite this law, there are still some leaders who do not adhere to basic respect towards it. To no surprise, our current President is one of them.
At a ceremony of the Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project held last November 26, Duterte delivered a controversial statement against bishops and Catholic leaders in his speech. “You build a chapel on your own house and pray there. You don’t have to go to the church to pay for these idiots,” he said in his speech. He further went on saying that beliefs taught by the Catholic church including Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David are not currently applicable because it is old-fashioned.
Recently, David denied the President’s allegations of bishops stealing from the Church’s offerings and David being involved in illegal drugs. He explained that the President may have falsely accused him because he is not the only Bishop named David in the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and that he has confused him for someone else. “My parents never taught me to steal,” David said in a public Facebook post. He added that he is not into any drugs and takes in natural vitamins. Because of Duterte’s allegations against him and the Church, he pleaded Catholics to pray for the President.
Growing up Catholic, I was always taught by my family to incorporate our morals and beliefs in how we treat others fairly. My mother would always tell me to always do what is right and never lose sight of it. I am not entirely religious myself, but I always stuck by those moral principles. Whenever I feel that one of my friends has done something wrong, I try to understand why he or she did it and we figure out the best solution to it. Sometimes I do not even agree with my friends’ beliefs or perspectives but I do not shut them down for it. One thing for sure is that I always try to be sensitive to other people.
Whenever people expose me to various cultures that are unfamiliar or new to me, I always keep an open mind and learn more about them. That way, I gain more knowledge about where they came from and how they are. Also, it helps in clarifying misconceptions I have had before about certain cultures. Knowing that, you would have a clearer understanding of others. Because of this, I got to know so many people not just within my close circle of friends but others I have met along the way from different walks of life and became friends with most of them throughout my college life.
With that, there is a question we must ponder on–why did our President verbally attack the Catholic Church unnecessarily? Again, I am not being extremely religious here, but it is common sense to practice basic respect for one another. Slanderous remarks without knowing the person fully would only increase mistrust in others.
The mere fact that our President makes hasty generalizations against the Catholic Church which is an established institution itself is discriminative. It is sad to see how much pride and prejudice he has against the Catholic Church despite ironically saying, according to Rappler, that people should still go to Mass if his friends who are priests are the ones presiding over it. Even though some may disregard the President’s prejudice towards the Church because they have accepted his nature, we must not be silent and tolerant about the situation. If we continue to tolerate Duterte’s behavior, how are we going to establish respect among our countrymen?
Whether one believes in the Catholic Church or not, morality is universal. Just like the law, ignorance of morality excuses no one. Duterte may not have entirely known Bishop David, but it does not exempt him from the repercussions of discriminating him. If we are to be the future leaders and workforce of this country, we must practice basic morality and respect. That way, we’d not only be able to properly understand each other but also work with one another to make our country a better place to live in. After all, we are all humans that continuously strive for the same goals of peace, order, justice, and security in our country.