In his Manila Times column, Francisco Tatad, the press secretary for the late Ferdinand E. Marcos, said that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte could not have chosen a worst time to embark on a state visit to the Middle East.
It’s Holy Week of course, when Tatad says, most Filipino Catholics meditate on the suffering, death and resurrection of the crucified and risen Christ whom they profess to be the center of their faith. He says, Duterte is “disrespecting the Catholic Faith.”
I challenge Mr. Tatad to show me pictures of empty malls and deserted beach resorts all this week, including Holy Thursday and Good Friday. I can’t wait to see a traffic-free EDSA, or SLEX, NLEX and TPLEX and an eerie calm in Boracay, Palawan, Tagaytay, or at NAIA’s domestic terminal.
What is so un-Catholic about making a trip to Saudi Arabia,Qatar and Bahrain to personally meet with hundreds of thousands of Filipino overseas workers who spend months and years away from their Catholic families in order to provide for them a decent life in the Philippines? What is so wrong about a president bringing home hundreds of stranded Filipinos in the Middle East, including those pardoned of crimes? What is so wrong about Duterte traveling on these holy days to generate investments so that the poorest of Filipinos will eventually benefit from an improved economy?
This is the 21st Century, Mr. Tatad, not the 18th Century.
I was practically “born, raised and educated” a Catholic. I don’t observe or practice all teachings and rituals of the Catholic Church. But in many other ways, my conscience is clear that I care for my people, especially the less fortunate — as I hope you do, too Mr. Tatad. That’s exactly what Duterte is doing. That to me is very Christian and Catholic. Holy Week or not.