To kill a priest

To kill a priest

HARPER Lee’s extremely popular “To Kill a Mockingbird” which was published and translated into 40 languages  and a global readership of about 35 million, not to mention a Pulitzer Prize, is weaved on a child’s awakening into harsh realities of their times such as prejudice and racism—and therefore on a careful development of human values and morals.

Not so with President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration.  His is blatant.  He does his order to kill people without pretense, surpassing even Marcos’ Martial Law when killings, EJKs and disappearances where hidden with some veneer of alibis and the pretext of law.  In public gatherings, Duterte blurts out his command to kill without batting an eyelash, as in recent speeches where he orders even thugs to rob priests and kill them if they resist.  Just like that.  This script is repeated ad nauseam in his speeches since late last year, “These bishops that you guys have, kill them.  They are useless fools.  All they do is criticize.”

Few days ago, three priests came out in a press conference to expose the death threats that have been hounding them.  Cardinal Tagle has reportedly disclosed to Malacañang that priests and bishops have been receiving death threats.

But priests and bishops are sent on a mission.  No amount of death threats will ever make them flip.  What is horrible is the continuing killings of poor people that now reportedly counts between twenty-five to thirty thousand, since the war on drugs of the Duterte administration started.  It is unimaginable how the growing number of widows and orphans are going to make do with their lives—bereft of social assistance and compassion because of the drug-tagging stigma.   The Duterte administration is winning in the deeper war of reshaping public opinion that killing drug users, even without the benefit of due process, is good, just and beneficial to the country.  This is the more horrifying.

There is no mistaking that the culture of death and violence is fast engulfing the country today. It brings with it the death of integrity, honesty, human dignity and the other values that a civilized society holds dear.   If such should be the case, then the breakdown of governance is just around the corner.  Killing the governed is the ultimate measure of failure that no amount of economic or even political gain will be able to redeem.