CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 24 August 2019

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Duterte threatens to arrest all his critics

MANILA (UCAN): “I will arrest all of you. I will put you together with the criminals, rebels, and drug lords,” Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte ranted at a gathering of prosecutors on April 4.
 
“If you make it hard for me, I will declare a revolutionary war until the end of my term,” said Duterte, adding that he was willing to be hanged. “I’m willing to die,” he said.
 
Duterte’s recent tirade came after legislators warned that his administration must be careful when reviewing government contracts because procedures have to be followed so that the government does not breach its obligations.
 
Members of the Philippine clergy and human rights groups rounded on Duterte with Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos in Negros Occidental remarking that even without this, “killings are rampant.”
 
The bishop said, “Poor people already live in fear.” On March 30, 14 farmers, were gunned down by police who accused them of being communist rebels (Sunday Examiner, April 7).
 
“We pray (Duterte) won’t do it,” Bishop Alminaza said, adding that a crackdown will only fuel more unrest.
 
Father Wilfredo Dulay of the Missionary Disciples of Jesus, said the “noose is tightening” around Duterte, referring to a series of videos alleging that drug money has been funnelled into bank accounts held by Duterte’s children.
 
The Dutertes have denied the allegations. The son, Paolo Duterte, a former mayor of Davao City, however, indicated that he knew the identity of the accuser.
 
“Exposure is well possible, especially his son’s arrogant clumsiness. (The president) needs any flimsy excuse to exercise absolute power,” Father Dulay said.
 
Bishop Antonio Ablon of the Philippine Independent Church, called on people to respond appropriately to tyranny.
 
“Natural quick reactions should now become sparks of prolonged vigilant actions and mobilisation to awaken the people and gather the millions to stop attacks against the people,” the bishop said.
 
Redemptorist Brother Ciriaco Santiago Jr., who has been documenting the drug-related killings, asked, with the many human rights abuses of the current administration, “What other rights are there left?”
 
He said, “The Church flourishes in every chaos. In times when it is persecuted, more take up the challenge to put on the robes of prophets.”
 
He said, “Today’s challenge is for all of us to band together to oppose this threat of dictatorship.” 
 
Father Danilo Pilario, a theology school dean, said the president’s comments sounded illogical.
 
“He is feeling the pressure. Endless criticism about Chinese incursions, the killing of drug addicts and farmers, and more recently, the alleged involvement of his family in drug syndicates can push him to the edge,” the priest said.
 
“They have used up their credible excuses. This is an expression of a desperate man,” he added.
 
“Duterte is testing the waters again.” Antonio La Vina, former dean of colleges of law and governance and founder of a coalition of human rights lawyers, said.
 
“He is flexing his muscles,” he said, adding that people will have to hold firm… “Otherwise he would feel he could do anything he wants.” 

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