Silence is always a virtue. Great men always practice that virtue, knowing how silence speaks louder than words.
Caloocan Bishop and CBCP Vice President Pablo Virgilio David should know better in dealing with President Rodrigo Duterte. Recently, the two leaders have been exchanging barbs to gutter levels.
Journalist Randy David’s younger sibling had been doing well in his criticisms against the Duterte’s drug war bordering the lines of extra judicial killings; he was passionate, for instance, in the Kian de los Santos murder case and probably sighed a relief of justice now that three cops have been convicted in the case.
However, more recently, with President Duterte’s negative harangue on church practices and beliefs, beginning with a “stupid God,” original sin and Adam and Eve, including the sacraments, veneration of the saints, calling them drunkards and crazy, the bishop launched his counter by stating in his homilies that the faithful should choose to ignore the remarks of a “very sick man.”
“I think it should be obvious to people by now that our country is being led by a very sick man. We pray for him. We pray for our country,” he said in a post on social media.
He attached this as a refrain of his talks and posts.
He was not the first, as Sen. Antonio Trillanes had been harping on the President’s physical condition that limits his healthy brain functions.
Trillanes avers that President Duterte’s “murderous and erratic ways, crass, twisted and perverted statements reflect a “deeply sick mind.”
He adds, “So, for the sake of the safety and well-being of the entire Filipino nation whose lives are subjected to his power, I call on Duterte to prove that he has a sound mental health by going through a psychiatric evaluation.”
The President simply shrugged off the idea and, in fact, had his own brickbats against those demanding his psychiatric evaluation which includes the local and UN human rights commissions.
In the same vein, expectedly, the President did not spare the bishop with his own personal attacks, accusing the latter of pocketing church collections and in another speech insinuating he might be into drugs!
Given the penchant of the two personalities to sling mud at each other in public, it would seem that the continuing verbal tussle would test their endurance. And this is not good.
Nobody can advise President Duterte to a ceasefire; he can always fire at will.
However, Bishop David belongs to a hierarchical structure that could demand him to cease and desist — namely, the higher echelons of the ecclesiastical plantilla. I believe it would come soon, considering that the present president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Bishop Romulo Valles, archbishop of Davao, is the president’s homegrown friend.
Most probably, the advice would be by way of asking the Caloocan bishop to shift to a more silent mode, especially that of prayer and passive resistance.
Acclimatized by now to the unpresidential style of the President in his speeches, the bishop has no reason to run parallel to that level or style. He has his own ecclesiastical forum and deportment.
In fact, the bishops and priests need not react to every outlandish or eccentric remark of the President which oftentimes are condiments to flavor the serious portions of his prepared speech; usually sourcing humor from such.
When President Duterte made a slur on the “stupid God,” which drew flak from all over, his daughter Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio was quick to dismiss her dad’s remarks as anything but serious: “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,” she posted on Instagram.
In fact, she even added, “Do not waste your negative energy on his interpretation of the Bible; that is his opinion. He is protected by the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression even if he is President.”
So far, this is the best approach to the President’s religious tirades; and I guess Bishop David would surely get a similar advice from his brother bishops.