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Duterte fails to inspire with Easter message

Churchgoers accuse Philippine president of creating more misery rather than providing hope amid Covid-19 pandemic

Duterte fails to inspire with Easter message

A file image of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivering a speech at a police function in Manila. (Photo: AFP)

Catholics in the Philippines have criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s Easter message on April 4 calling for collective efforts to end the coronavirus pandemic as infections continued to rise in recent days.

His efforts so far in tackling Covid-19 leave a lot to be desired, they said.  

Duterte said in his message that Easter is a time of hope during the pandemic.

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“We are joined together in the spirit of victory through the resurrection of Christ. The glory of Easter gives us all a profound message of hope in the midst of suffering and an assurance of triumph over adversity,” he said.

Many, however, said it was difficult to find hope with more people losing their jobs due to an extended lockdown in the Philippine capital and nearby provinces for seven days following a spike in Covid cases.

Factory workers Mario Baltazar and Nicanor Bunag told UCA News that it is difficult to find hope, especially with the extended enhanced community quarantines. They said they had lost their jobs again but had not received any aid from the government.

As of April 4, the Philippines had recorded 795,051 coronavirus cases with 13,425 deaths, according to official figures.

Duterte said a collective effort is necessary for the nation to survive and overcome the sufferings brought by the pandemic.

“As we collectively strive to overcome the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, I trust that the promise of salvation will inspire us to look ahead for new beginnings and move forward with stronger faith and compassion for others,” the president added.

But for Quezon City parishioner Rodolfo Balderama, salvation will not be possible without a concrete government plan to fight the virus and cushion its effects.

“It’s easy for him to say that we should be hopeful because Easter brings salvation. But what salvation has he brought to the poor like us? We are in the same situation as last year, or even worse,” Balderama told UCA News.

Duterte also described Easter as the “cornerstone” of Christian faith that should make people persevere for a safer future.

Balderama, however, said it is difficult to believe in Duterte’s words with hospitals in Manila now closing their doors to Covid patients.

Several hospitals have issued statements saying they cannot accept new Covid patients because they are full.

“How can we tell people to hope? How can the president expect us to look forward to salvation if this is the kind of situation that we have here in the Philippines? Government aid for the people is also being pocketed by politicians,” Balderama said.

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