Where are the Church leaders? » Manila Bulletin News

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By Leandro DD Coronel

Leandro DD Coronel

Some people are starting to wonder why the Catholic Church is relatively silent over the burning issues of our time, namely the excesses of President Duterte. “Where is today’s Jaime Cardinal Sin?” people ask.

There are too many issues and controversies swirling around us. Too many fellow Filipinos killed without due process. Drastic changes in our foreign relations. A President who talks trash. Unilateral decisions by the President.

For me, the main issue that is worrying is that of summary killings of drug suspects. The number of murdered Filipinos keeps growing. What is it now – 9,000, 10,000?

This is unprecedented no matter what President Duterte’s defenders may say, that killings have always been part of Filipino culture.

Killings do occur regularly in any society, in any country. But the summary killings, more popularly known as extrajudicial killings (EJKs) are different. They are a systematic elimination of people, mainly poor, suspected of being involved in the drug trade or drug use. My multi-talented friend Mackoy Villaroman chillingly calls EJKs “culling,” like exterminating contaminated chickens.

One summary killing is one EJK too many. And yet there is only a faint outcry among the populace over this abomination, about this outrage. Civilized people don’t kill people with impunity. A civilized society doesn’t tolerate this kind of behavior. A government that does it, encourages it, or even just condones it, is an uncivilized government.

All who are silent over this outrage are complicit in the murders. This is especially true of those who are close to the leader, meaning Cabinet members.

The other issue that concerns me is this President’s personal behavior.

Very early on I sensed that Mr. Duterte is not a normal person when he “joked” about being left out of the rape of an Australian missionary, who was later killed by her molesters. (I put “joked” in quotes because it wasn’t a joke, even though Duterte tried to pass it off as one.) What kind of human being talks that way?

His alter egos in the Cabinet ape his wild utterances. One of them shrugged off summary killings as a “necessary evil.” Another one gave the excuse that her boss’ doesn’t use profane language in Cabinet meetings. Are the members of the Cabinet not offended by their leader’s crudeness?

And where is society at large’s indignation? Why are many people silent over the summary killings and the President’s outrageous language. Some people counsel acceptance and to just move on. (“Nandyan na yan e, tanggapin na lang.”) Really?

I’ve written several times that four sectors will be key to what happens in the coming months: The Catholic Church, academe, media, and the military. Although there have been rumblings and grumblings from the first three, they haven’t really succeeded in influencing government policy and action so far. The military is probably on a soul-searching mode.

Where is the Church in all this turmoil? People ask where Luis Cardinal Tagle is. They expect him to lead the opposition, as then Cardinal Sin did, against what ails the nation in the hands of a ruthless and crude leader. “Why has Tagle been silent?”  people ask.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas might be the natural heir to Sin, people speculate. Maybe. But I have my reservations about Villegas: He was the guy who barred demonstrators from using the toilets at the Edsa Shrine during the demonstrations against President Joseph Estrada in 2001 lest they soil the premises.

What kind of leader forbids the flock from answering the call of nature?

Someone, anyone, must come out of the confines of the Church to be a leader. Does that someone exist?

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Tantrum Ergo. One of the most misunderstood, ignored, or violated traffic rule is “Right Turn on Red.” This rule applies only when there’s no incoming traffic coming from the left. But the Pinoy practice is to compete for space with such oncoming vehicles, which actually have right of way and, therefore, must be allowed to pass first before making a right turn on a red light.

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