After papal blessing, Duterte challenges abusive priests to 'showdown'

MANILA (Reuters) Undeterred by a blessing from Pope Francis, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte launched an angry rebuke on Thursday of priests and bishops critical of his drug war, accusing them of homosexuality, corruption and child abuse.

Duterte was furious over concerns by the Catholic Church of alleged extrajudicial killings during his crackdown and lambasted clergymen for denouncing him instead of using their influence to get people off drugs.

His no-holds-barred tirade came a day after one of Duterte's top advisers met Pope Francis at the Vatican and said the pontiff had told him he would bless the Philippines and "also bless your president."

In a speech to policemen, the firebrand leader of one of only two majority-Catholic Asian countries challenged the church to a "showdown" and threatened to expose priests and bishops for a litany of abuses.

"Most people here are Catholics. If you are a good priest, make them understand that they will die," he said, referring to drug users.

"You criticize the police, you criticize me. For what? You have the money. You are all crazy. ... When we were making confessions to you, we were being molested. They are touching us. What is your moral ascendancy, religion? What is the meaning of it?"

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

Duterte's aide, Jesus Dureza, was at the Vatican this week to deliver a letter from the president, thanking the pope for his 2015 visit to the Philippines.

Duterte had famously called the pope a "son of a bitch" for causing traffic snarl-ups, and later apologized, saying his remark was aimed at incompetent officials.

The pope's blessing did not stop Duterte from chiding the church, which is among a few institutions willing to oppose his war on drugs. Police figures show 7,042 people have been killed during the campaign, 2,250 in anti-drug operations and most of the other deaths still being investigated.

Duterte said members of the clergy had wives and were engaging in homosexual acts, practices prohibited by the Catholic Church. Priests were also misusing state funds, he said, and they could not explain where vast amounts of money from public donations had gone.

"You expose me, fine. I expose you. Why? Your mistake is just all right, but ours is not? Bullshit. That is a big joke," he said.

"You asked for it. So if you really want a showdown, showdown. Make a change.

"If you cannot mend your ways, if you cannot even give justice to the small boys that you have molested in the past, you do not have that moral ascendancy to lecture on the sanctity of life."

Responding to Duterte's comments, the Rev. Roy Bellen, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Manila, said the church was aware of its weaknesses and despite limitations, it was fighting to root out its bad elements.

"Yes, there's still work to be done inside and outside of the church," he said. "We can never do everything, but whatever is in reach, we do it."


  1. This guy is a certifiable wack job. My prognostication is that he will meet the same outcome as the ones he butchers. I am VERY disappointed that the Vatican has not done more to end this mass slaughter which is with ever tick of the clock turning into a genocide. They need to stand up to his evil, those priests must preach the Gospel, and urge all not to partake in these gravely sinful murders. If they will not, if they will not be the voice against this madness, then they are failures. Duterte is a mass murderer and needs to be jailed post haste.

  2. Bravo for President Rodrigo Duterte! He has the moral courage to stand up to the abusive priests! I’m glad he merits the pope’s prayers. Now if the pope could catch a bit of that moral courage stuff! Duterte deserves a heartier endorsement from the pope than just the assurance of his prayers!

  3. As far as duterte goes, he is quite the mixed bag. I’m glad he is standing up to the church. Good for him. The church with its insane policies around sexuality and reproduction is perpetuating the misery and poverty so rampant in the Philippines. It has as well long tolerated the systematic exploitation of the Philippines by the ruling classes.

    I’m not glad that extra judicial killings are perfectly ok with him. I’m not glad that he is deliberately conflating adult sexuality with child molesting. My quite gay brother, now dead for 15 years, due in part to religious homobigotry, for a long time supported a little Filipino girl in order to prevent her family from selling her into sexual slavery– heterosexual sexual slavery, to be exact– in order to provide food for the family, which increased in size due to opposition to birth control from the church.

  4. Duterte says the Catholic Church has no moral ascendancy to criticize his immoral drug war because the Church is itself tainted by the immorality of clergy child sex abuse covered up by the Church hierarchy.

    As a secular humanist and atheist, I’m no fan of the Catholic church. But Duterte argues like a 5 year old child. Essentially he is saying that because Catholic clergy have committed immoral acts and the church has protected them, he is also able to commit immoral acts in his so-called drug war, which is really a war against citizens. But two wrongs don’t make a right.

    And make no mistake, Duterte is guilty of immoral and illegal acts by ordering, encouraging, condoning and protecting members of the Philippine National Police to kill suspects without due process of law. Not only has Duterte and his subordinates in charge of the police ordered and encouraged lawless extra-judicial killings by the police, he has personally ensured those policemen who have committed murders outside of the law that he will protect them from prosecution. Therefore, Duterte should be prosecuted under the following Philippine law:

    Executive Order No. 226, s. 1995


    SECTION 1. Neglect of Duty Under the Doctrine of “Command Responsibility”. Any government official or supervisor, or officer of the Philippine National Police or that of any other law enforcement agency shall be held accountable for “Neglect of Duty” under the doctrine of “command responsibility” if he has knowledge that a crime or offense shall be committed, is being committed, or has been committed by his subordinates, or by others within his area of responsibility and, despite such knowledge, he did not take preventive or corrective action either before, during, or immediately after its commission.

    SECTION 2. Presumption of Knowledge. A government official or supervisor, or PNP commander, is presumed to have knowledge of the commission of irregularities or criminal offenses in any of the following circumstances:

    a. When the irregularities or illegal acts are widespread within his area of jurisdiction;
    b. When the irregularities or illegal acts have been repeatedly or regularly committed within his area of responsibility; or
    c. When members of his immediate staff or office personnel are involved.

  5. The RCC’s massive moral failing in preventing child abuse and turning perpetrators over to local civil courts has a high price, and the erosion of moral authority is one of the costs. That being said, it is no excuse for Duterte’s death squads. His reactions to criticism and disagreement, ie- tantrums, is quite trumpian.

  6. The Philippines was a colony of Catholic Spain for 300 yrs. The colony was “mis-managed” by the Spanish Cortes via corrupt Mexican officials, who in turn were controlled by the religious orders that now own vast assets (like banks, land, schools, etc), dictated upon the civil authorities during Jose Rizal’s (the natl . hero,whose death by musketry it manipulated) and influenced public policy since independence. The 1898 Philippine Revolution (the 1st in Asia) was betrayed to the Guardia Civil in the confessional, and the RCC has been more or less a permanent fixture in Philippine politics, economy and society in general. It has made and unmade presidents and civil administrations for the last 400-plus yrs of Catholic history. All these times, it has shown no significant moral ascendancy, except perhaps in the area of natural family planning “preferential action for the poor” (read: liberation theology), and divorce.
    Moral ascendancy, again? I will not bore you w/ details, but its silence on the rising tide of teenage and unwanted pregnancies, AIDS-HIV, and widespread drug addiction is, indeed, DEAFENING.

  7. Dutarte, like most populist nutjobs, is strongly supportive of gay rights.

  8. Really? Goshes, a trumpenfact!

    Like most populist nutjobs, duterte says the first thing that comes to mind. Other people get to clarify it.

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