Putting more words to Duterte’s mouth


Malacañang’s official mouthpiece had more verbal skirmishes than his boss, of course, in an effort to parry off the negative effects of the latter’s direct tirades against the Christian religion.

Latest from President Duterte’s battery of spites against the Catholic Church is branding the Three Persons in One God or the Holy Trinity as “silly,” as earlier he had surmised a stupid God who did not spare his son a death on the cross or would send people to hell.

And here comes his spokesman trying to assuage or candy coat the frank and harsh presidential “un-theological remarks.”

All of a sudden, the official spokesman, Salvador Panelo, transforms himself into a theological critique and pontificates that his boss’ comments were his way of “shaking long held religious tenets and beliefs that instead of molding them into being righteous individuals make them cling to religion as opium.”

Was it Karl Marx, the father of communism, who philosophized that religion is the “opium of the people” since religion was communism’s main obstruction.

Is Panelo now clinging to the communist atheistic praxis? Communism is a goner from its genetic beginnings in Russia or in China, but religion continues to flourish.

Or probably, is this the reason why there is an underlying stream to discredit religion and relegate it to a form of “addiction” (opium) — and soon, would be a target of a similar “Operation Tokhang?”

Is he implying the faithful Catholic followers are the “users” of the opiating substance and that the hierarchy, namely, the bishops and priests are the “opium Lords?”

Anyway, let us see and wait for his critique when millions would swarm the annual Feast of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo three days from now; would he dare call it “opium.”

Besides, how in the world can anyone shake the belief in the Holy Trinity or test its validity when the dogma has been defined through a chronic process of crystallization through generations of Christian theological debates and church councils.

Furthermore, the official clanging cymbal of Malacañang notes that “Duterte’s intention in making these “unconventional discourses” is to initiate an “intellectual discussion for the faithfuls’ enlightenment and spiritual awakening…”

If “initiating” an intellectual discussion on a particular church doctrine is what Panelo sees in the mind of the President, then isn’t that a violation of the principle of separation of church and State? Why would a duly elected civic leader initiate a ‘theological discussion’ in the first place.

Isn’t that separation clause the main argument of the Palace against the bishops’ using the pulpit to hit the extrajudicial killings allegedly happening in containing drug abuse?
Besides, Panelo sees the rationale for fanning such theological fora, the President’s constitutional duty.

Panelo states, “In fulfilling his constitutional duty to serve and to protect the people, the President endeavors to be creative, using means that may be unnerving to the conservatives unused to his ways of governance but effective in putting across a message.”

“Protect the people” from what — from the Holy Trinity? I have been reading between the lines of President Duterte’s maverick remarks on religion and I know where it is coming from.

And I am pretty sure that nothing is “official” in those lines, otherwise, he could have issued executive order’s on the matter at hand. In fact, I suspect that they are not even written on the official text of his prepared speeches.

Hence, there is no reason for spokesman Sal Panelo to input something more than what they really are for.

Author Robert Sarah once wrote, “Words often bring with them the illusion of transparency, as though they allowed us to understand everything, control everything, put everything in order.”

One day, Panelo would nervously grasp for answers when his boss would angrily ask him, “Did I say that?”

What are your thoughts?

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