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 When Duterte took on Pope Francis

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By Ellen T. Tordesillas

Living up to his macho image of a crime buster that discriminates no one, in Tagalog, “walang sinasanto,” Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte took on the well-loved Pope Francis whose arrival in the Philippines last January caused him to be stuck in traffic he had to pee in his car.

Last Monday at his declaration as PDP-Laban presidential candidate in lieu of  former barangay captain Martin Diño, who filed his certificate of candidacy for president last Oct. 16 but withdrew later as the  the poll body included him in the list of nuisance candidates (the Comelec has yet to decide on Duterte’s substitution of Diño), Duterte was in his element spewing “P..I” in abandon, according to news reports.

He cursed traffic in Metro Manila. He related his ordeal last January: “From the hotel to the airport, alam mo inabot kami ng… limang oras. Sabi ko bakit? Sabi pinasarado daw.”  A friend told him that the road closure and the traffic jams were due to the arrival of Pope Francis.

He told the adoring crowd: ” Gusto kong tawagan, ‘Pope, p.. I.. ka, umuwi ka na. ‘Wag ka nang bumisita dito.”

The video clip of the speech showed the audience laughing enjoying the mayor’s story.

Not all cheered him. One of those who found his tirade against the Pope offensive was Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines .

Villegas said,” When a revered and loved and admired man like Pope Francis is cursed by a political candidate and the audience laugh, I can only bow my head and grieve in great shame. My countrymen has gone to the dregs.”

In a statement, Villegas warned against persons who kill people and indulges in adultery, which Duterte takes pride of having done and is still doing: “What the world desperately needs now is leadership by example. We have so many leaders in office and many more aspiring to sit in office but are they examples of good citizenship? If the leaders we choose are to be leaders for national progress they must be visionaries and exemplary.

“Corruption is indeed a great scourge of Philippine politics.

“The usual face of corruption that we recognize easily is stealing from public funds. Corruption, like a monster, is a devil with many faces. Killing people is corruption. Killing is a crime and a sin whether it is done by criminals or public officials no matter what the intention.

“Adultery is corruption. It makes married love cheap and uses people for pleasure. Adultery corrupts the family; it destroys children and victimizes the weak. Vulgarity is corruption. When we find vulgarity funny, we have really become beastly and barbaric as a people. “

“Is this the leadership by example that Mayor Duterte excites in us? Is this the leadership by example that makes a public official deserving of the title ‘Honorable’? I grieve for my country….!, “ Villegas lamented.

Former North Cotabato mayor Manny Piñol, a Duterte supporter tried to contain the damage, saying what the mayor said “ was merely an expression that comes almost naturally from Duterte’s mouth and peppers almost all of his public discourses.”

Yesterday, Duterte said he will contact Pope Francis. “I would address myself to the highest hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. If you think I have offended — which, in the first place, I never really meant to do it — kung hindi ninyo ako mapatawad, the hierarchy o yung Vatican, sabihin ninyo: ‘We are offended and we demand that you withdraw from the presidential contest.’ And I will tomorrow withdraw. Walang problema ‘yan.”

Of course, the Pope would not tell him that. So mura pa more.