By Atty. Mel Sta. Maria
In his South Korea visit, President Duterte mocked the Catholic Church using the story of Adam and Eve. Among others, he said: “Yung Adam and Eve na iyan, kung iyan ang Diyos ng Katoliko, torpe iyan.” Mockingly, he explained that malice was created when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden apple. Apparently referring to the Catholic doctrine of original sin, he said: “Lahat tayo nagkasala, we are born… itong putanginang ito, we are born all sinners… Anong pakialam natin kay Adam and Eve, sila lang naman ang nag chukchak doon, wala man tayo kasali, anong klaseng Diyos iyan …. Kaputahan iyang istorya ng Katoliko, kalokohan.”
Then he proceeded to the notorious lips-to-lips kiss with a married OFW. That kiss – which became news worldwide – could be a manifestation of a power-tripping psyche exhibiting a feeling of invincibility answerable to no one – not to the woman’s husband and family.
The events in South Korea give us a sense of the underpinning of the Duterte Administration’s leadership. It is one seriously lacking, if not totally devoid of, a moral foundation capable of acknowledging accountability.
This is the same mindset capable of blurting out “alternative facts” like when he publicly asserted that the WPS international ruling was handed down during the Aquino administration when, in truth, it was during his term, or, without qualms, of uttering with ease his “I-will-kill-you” pronouncements that can inspire rouge state agents to commit extrajudicial killings.
This may also be the same insensitive psyche which, in a town fiesta in Cebu, publicly showed – under the pretext of an alleged killing-motive – a matrix of the illicit relationships of an already dead priest who was, therefore, incapable of responding to his matrix.
The preamble of our Constitution implores “the aid of Almighty God.” That alone signifies that we, as a people, aspire for a government with a strong moral foundation – absolutely fundamental in order “to build a just and humane society.” This is also a reaction to the Ferdinand Marcos regime where graft and corruption were normal and “summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations” victimized many Filipinos (Republic Act No. 10368).
That is not to say that those who do not believe in God are not moral people. They may even be more upright as it is in the very nature of humans to know what is right and wrong.
Thomas Jefferson said, “Moral duties are as obligatory on nations as on individuals.” In other words, in matters of governance, a person’s morality or immorality will have an effect on his or her decision-making upon the assumption to a national leadership position.
And, as Herbert Hoover said, “When there is lack of honor in the government, the morals of the people are poisoned” as, and it will result in an unruly nation.
President Duterte should have acted with honor and decorum in South Korea. As the nation’s leader, he is the ultimate global representation of the Filipino nation – particularly its ideals and aspirations.
And if, as embodied in the Constitution, the Filipino people’s aspiration is to have a “just and humane society” or in other words, a nation steeped in morality in order to attain a regime “of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace,” then President Duterte’s public God-mocking and kissing-predilections, devoid of any propriety, are the representation of this administration’s disdainful disregard of that noble aspiration.
Four more years to go of the current administration. Hopefully, President Duterte will be open to constructive criticism, be introspective, and change accordingly. Occupying the office is not the same as campaigning for it. He must shift from being an impetuously outspoken politician – simply trying to woo his audience – to a deliberative statesman – conscious of the nation’s ideals sacredly enshrined in the Constitution.
But then, is this a vain hope? Can we really expect anything from a President who once publicly denounced the Constitution – when invoked against him – saying, “That’s nothing to me actually….Do not give me that piece of paper. It doesn’t mean anything to me at all”?
Is change not coming?