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Philippines

Priest attacks Duterte, Pacquiao for being pro-death

Accuses both of being the 'cross' of the very people they ought to be serving

Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila

Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila

Published: September 17, 2021 05:55 AM GMT

Updated: September 17, 2021 06:07 AM GMT

Priest attacks Duterte, Pacquiao for being pro-death

Manny Pacquiao has come under fire from a Filipino priest over his backing of the death penalty Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs (Photo: AFP)

A Vincentian priest in the Philippines has attacked President Rodrigo Duterte and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao for their support of the death penalty and extralegal killings.

Pacquiao, who is also a senator, is backing the reintroduction of the death penalty which Duterte is urging lawmakers to back in a bill to combat illegal drugs.

He has openly supported Duterte’s crusade describing the death penalty as “biblical.”

“I want to explain to all the re-imposition of the death penalty is not illegal. This is not contrary in the eyes of the Lord because the death penalty is biblical... the government is allowed to implement it because its authority is established God,” Pacquiao told reporters in 2020.

Vincentian Father Danilo Pilario, however, said political leaders like Duterte and Pacquiao had become the “cross” of the very people they ought to serve for promoting a “culture of death in the Philippines.”

The comments come as the International Criminal Court agreed to open a full investigation into Duterte’s ‘war on drugs.’

The priest said during a homily this week that Pacquiao’s literal interpretation of the Scriptures was misplaced to justify a death penalty bill, legislation which has been opposed by Catholics for decades.

Father Pilario also criticized Duterte’s claim that his anti-illegal drugs campaign was pro-poor.

Duterte claimed that the poor were the first beneficiaries of his war on illegal drugs because of the “safer” environment it brought them.

“There is no way a president can say: I will kill the drug addicts now in order to give a beautiful future to our children. He sometimes makes himself appear as someone who takes care of the poor or one who is concerned with the youth,” Father Pilario said.

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“But no solution is forthcoming to respond to the hunger of our people during the pandemic, to the lack of work due to lockdowns, to the sick in overflowing hospitals, to the [medical] front liners who are tired and underpaid.”

Pilario recalled an occasion when Duterte cursed jeepney drivers saying he did not care about their suffering.

“Are you poor? You son of a whore, you sacrifice until you become hungry. I don’t care,” Pilario quoted the president as saying.

“Instead what you get are tirades against those who oppose him or curses the poor... he protects the policemen who kill the addicts, or cabinet members who squander the people's money,” he added.

Father Pilario said Duterte’s killings were not only physical but economic due to allegations of massive corruption.

 “They [corruption and extralegal killings] all perpetuate what Pope Francis calls ‘an economy that kills’. This cross is intended to maintain the status quo. It continues to kill,” Father Pilario added.

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