“Duterte feels the need to act tough through insults, offensive pronouncements and hate speech. What a pitiful man, desperate for respect by way of disrespecting others.”
MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan did not take sitting down President Duterte’s tirades against Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox after admitting that he ordered her the arrest.
“The formula is consistent: facing his equally fascist and bloodthirsty security forces, Duterte feels the need to act tough through insults, offensive pronouncements and hate speech. What a pitiful man, desperate for respect by way of disrespecting others,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay in a statement.
During his speech at the Change of Command Ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on April 18, Duterte said he ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to investigate the nun for her “disorderly conduct.”
Duterte went on and said that he cannot take criticisms from a foreigner. He said foreigners who are intervening in issues surrounding the Philippines would be a “violation of sovereignty.”
“Huwag mong papasukin kasi walang hiya ang bunganga ng madreng iyan. (Don’t let her in because her mouth is shameless.) You do not have the right to criticize us,” said Duterte. He told Fox to criticize the Australian government for its inhumane treatment of refugees seeking asylum in their country.
Palabay said Duterte’s macho-fascist ego was once again bruised as support for Fox was overwhelming as well as the condemnation over BI’s arbitrary arrest and detention of the missionary.
“As expected, the President turns to his minions and puts on his strongman mask to help cushion the damage to his bruised ego,” she added.
In a statement sent to Bulatlat, Fr. Wilfredo T. Dulay, MDJ, convener of the Religious Discernment Group said he had known Fox for years and saw that she “always draws the line between partisan politics and her intrinsically pro-poor and pro-human Christian missionary commitment.”
He described Fox as a fearless advocate for the right to life and for human dignity. “Her personal mission statement is drawn directly from the words of Jesus Christ: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy,’” he said citing verses from Luke 4.18-19.
“But as a mature and seasoned foreign missionary working in the country already for several decades, Sister Pat has always refrained delicately from making pronouncements on the state of politics in the country. She has often told me: ‘I leave that to the Filipinos,’” he added.
Violation of sovereignty?
Palabay called Duterte’s cry of violation of sovereignty as ludicrous. She said Duterte’s administration has “allowed foreign troops in our islands, allowed China’s occupation and building of facilities in our territories, recently signed a loan agreement amounting to about P3 billion with China for a pump irrigation project in the Chico River which would further plunder our resources and uproot indigenous communities in the Cordilleras.”
“The right to expression is not tantamount to a violation of a country’s sovereignty, but puppetry to foreign interests is,” she added.
‘Church people become target of political persecution’
Meanwhile, the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF) strongly denounced Fox arrest which they called “evil-doing.”
They demand a stop on all politically motivated harassment against human rights defenders, peace and justice advocates, political activists, and church workers.
“We cannot comprehend why church people become targets of political persecution. When has it become a crime to accompany the poor and the oppressed in their struggle? When has it become a crime to preach the words of God and live-out the works of Christ?” said Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, Jr.
The group noted that church people has been persecuted under Duterte citing the killing of Catholic Priest Marcelito Paez in December last year and the arrest and now out on bail, Iglesia Filipina Indipendiente Bishop and peace advocate Carlo Morales in May also last year.
“We hold the Duterte government accountable for the many cases, documented or otherwise, on the persecution of church people. This situation only reveals the hands of a despotic government that seeks to suppress the Church’s role as a moral compass of the society,” said retired IFI Bishop Felixberto I. Calang.
The EBF called for all Christians and all people of good will to “boldly resist state violence and political oppression, and continue to stand up for and work in solidarity with the poor, deprived and oppressed, so that justice and peace may reign and life, in all its sanctity and dignity.”