In Catholic Philippines, politics crosses over into religion and vice versa.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the ongoing word war between President Rodrigo Duterte and Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani.
It all started when Duterte lashed out at the Catholic Church and said that the clergy has no moral ascendancy to lecture him because they also commit sinful acts. He singled out Bacani who has been vocal in criticizing the administration’s bloody war on drugs.
Duterte accused Bacani of having 2 wives, to which the prelate fired back, offering the president a P10 million reward if he could prove his allegation.
This may be a case of bluff and bluster.
Duterte is known to speak his mind when it comes to his critics, often resorting to cussing and verbal threats. But despite his many controversial statements that make for juicy news media headlines, we all know that it is the president’s kind of rhetoric. He himself has called his statements “hyperbole.”
But what about Bacani?
Should the news media also believe that he, indeed, has P10 million to offer Duterte? Or that what he says is the truth, just because he wears a cleric’s robe?
Politikal Pinoy thinks that Bacani’s P10 million offer is somewhat ironic because we all know that the Catholic Church in the Philippines has millions if not trillions. Financial investments are an open book so there is no point in trying to prove or disprove this fact.
And despite the church’s overflowing coffers, what concrete things has the church done to help alleviate poverty or help the downtrodden — yes, including drug addicts or victims of this pervasive illegal drug trade? How many local churches have opened their doors to the homeless or their facilities and resources for the rehabilitation of drug addicts?
And let’s not even go into “moral ascendancy.” Sex scandals and abuse by priests and church leaders — kept under wraps for so long — have now become an open book. For starters, go see the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight.”
So, in this word war between Duterte and Bacani, who’s bluffing and who’s blustering?