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It should now be clear to those who have to deal with him that President Rodrigo Duterte is not inclined to listen to anybody but himself. Even his own daughter, Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City has advised people not to pay too much attention to what her father says about religion and God.
On her Instagram account, the younger Duterte cautioned, “Please do not listen to him interpret the Bible or Quran, he is not a priest, a pastor or an imam. He is the President, listen only when he speaks about his work.”
I frankly agree with her.
If it were only possible, mainstream media and religious leaders should completely ignore anything that Duterte says, especially with respect to things he knows little about, like God or foreign affairs or the economy.
But then again, Duterte’s blustering and ranting are so outrageous that they make for sensational headlines — and we know, of course, that sensational headlines translate into newspaper sales and broadcast ratings which, in turn, translate into advertising revenues.
How did this controversy with the Catholic Church start?
When Duterte began counting dead bodies in the course of his war on drugs, the church felt compelled to condemn him for his human rights abuses.
Now, that’s just the sort of thing that gets Duterte’s goat. He doesn’t like to be criticized, believing as he does that he is all-knowing and all-righteous. He also has cheering squads in the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as the horde of DDS (Dedicated Duterte Supporters) and online trolls. Their unquestioning approval of his actions, as well as his bluster and profanity, serve to encourage him to commit even more outrageous acts.
That, in turn, has caused the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to rally the faithful against Duterte. Thinking that the CBCP has been excoriating him in the name of God. Duterte’s response, has been to turn against God Himself, and not just the church.
When Duterte starts talking, his mouth has no brakes and he rants even when his brain is not yet in gear. His logic is also the kind that kanto boys use after swigging bottles of marka demonyo.
He called the Good Lord stupid for creating imperfect human beings in Adam and Eve and questioned the idea of all mankind bearing an original sin caused by the couple’s transgression in the Garden of Eden.
“How can anybody sin even before being born? Duterte asked to the cheers of his fans,
Maybe Duterte will find more logic in a baby being destined to get sick even before being born. It’s called a genetic disorder (but then, that could unduly strain Duterte’s capacity for comprehension).
At any rate, Duterte did walk back a bit on his blasphemous remarks by clarifying that he himself has a “personal God” who, conceivably, is not stupid. Otherwise, it appears that everyone else’s God is stupid.
For reasons only the allegedly fearless Duterte can explain, he stopped short of insulting Islam but poured his venom on the Catholic Church. Duterte probably thinks that the God of the Christians is different from Allah of Islam. He has also probably heard that Christians do more barking than biting when people blaspheme God, but Muslims react more violently, sometimes issuing a fatwa.
Maybe somebody should explain to Duterte that the God of the Christians and Allah, the God of the Muslims, are the same Divine Being, and calling one stupid means calling the other stupid, too.
At any rate, because Duterte seems to have some very strong ideas about religion, I think that he should put up his own church. An Iglesia ni Duterte. That way, he can say anything about it and he will only have himself to answer to.
Duterte should not lack in templates for his church, There is his good friend and political supporter, Apollo Quiboloy, executive pastor of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Quiboloy could tell Duterte that putting up one’s own church can be as lucrative as running for public office (of course, not as lucrative as being president).
Duterte and Quiboloy could have a minor conflict of billing (a motion picture issue about whose name comes first in the credits) because the latter already claims that he is the “Appointed Son of God.”
Of course, Duterte, whose religion could designate him as god, can either deny or confirm Quiboloy’s appointment.
In the US, Duterte can always use as template David Koresh’s Branch Davidian sect or Jim Jones’ People’s Temple. Either one would be just right for Duterte considering his penchant for getting people dead.
Koresh’s cult members perished in a standoff with federal agents in Waco, Texas and Jones caused his members to commit mass suicide in Guyana.
However, there is some doubt that all of the DDS will willingly commit mass suicide if Duterte orders them to. But there should be a significant number who will give the classic response when ordered to jump out the window of a building: “What floor, sir?”
There is no truth to the rumor that presidential spokesman Harry Roque is the one most likely to ask “which floor, sir?” but it is not beyond belief that Duterte can designate Roque as the “rock” — or at least the roque — on which he will build his church.
The other possibility is for Foreign Affairs Secretary Cayetano to be designated as the personification of the foundation of the Iglesia ni Duterte, his name being Alan Peter.
Duterte already has ready-made apostles for his church, specifically a Pastor (Boy Saycon) and a former priest, cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco.
At the risk of seeming irreverent, I not only fully endorse the idea of an Iglesia ni Duterte, I am even proposing an official prayer for his church, as follows:
Amo namin, sumasalungat ka. (Our boss, you contradict them)
Sampalin ang kalaban mo (Slap your enemies)
Mapasa-amin ang kaharian mo (Thy kingdom be ours)
Sundin ang loob mo (Thy will be done)
Dito sa Pilipinas, para nang sa Davao (Here in the Philippines, just as in Davao).
Bigyan mo kami ngayon ng aming kakanin sa araw-araw (Give us this day our daily bread)
At patawarin mo ang aming mga utang (And forgive us our debts)
Tulad ng pagpapatawad mo sa mga nagnanakaw sa bayan (As you forgive those who steal from the country)
Ayos lang na ipahintulot mo kami sa tukso (It’s okay to lead us into temptation)
At hatian mo kami sa lahat ng weather-weather (But give us our share of weather-weather)
Greg B. Macabenta is an advertising and communications man shuttling between San Francisco and Manila and providing unique insights on issues from both perspectives.