Priest tells Duterte: ‘Shut your mouth and things will be OK’

Philippine's President Rodrigo Duterte. (REUTERS)
Updated 08 July 2018
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Priest tells Duterte: ‘Shut your mouth and things will be OK’

  • Duterte is distancing himself from many Catholics — the people who voted him to office
  • The firebrand president is due to hold talks at Catholic Bishops’ Conference and also with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments about a “Christian God” have been criticized by a church leader who suggested the country’s leader “shut his mouth.”
Duterte on Friday night said that if anyone can provide proof that the Christian God exists, such as a selfie in heaven, he will immediately give up the presidency.
“Duterte should learn to keep his mouth shut and everything will be OK,” said a Mindanao priest and Catholic peace activist on Saturday.
Oblate missionary Elizeo Mercado Jr. told Arab News that Duterte “appears to be fixated with God and religion, and his rants against the Catholic church are polarizing Filipinos.”
In his speech, the president said he believes in one Supreme God and he “just happened to be a human being believing there’s a universal mind somewhere who controls the universe.”
But he also said: “If there is anyone of you there, the noisy ones, who would say that you have been to heaven, talked to God, saw him personally, and that He exists, the God that is yours, if that is true I will step down the presidency tonight.” Mercado, who is an acquaintance of the president, said that Duterte “does not let go.”
“I don’t know why but normally when you go up high in the presidency, when you see that your statements divide and polarize your people, normally the people up there who is committed to national unity know how to let go.”
The firebrand president is due to hold talks at Catholic Bishops’ Conference and also with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles on Monday at Malacanang.
But Mercado said that given his fixation, “there’s no way to have a dialogue or move forward.”
“No one can help (him), except a professional. Not the church, not you and I, but professionals that deal with this kind of illness,” said Mercado.
“He has always been like that (firebrand) but... not in the same way that he is attacking the Catholic church now. I don’t know why it all appeared now. He said when he was a candidate the church was opposed to him, so it’s probably his way to retaliate,” Mercado said.
A town mayor from Luzon who supported Duterte during his campaign has also expressed disapproval of the president’s attacks on the church.
“Duterte is distancing himself from many Catholics — the people who voted him to office,” he said.
Political analyst Ranjit Singh Rye, of the University of the Philippines, said: “Only God knows the mindset of the president.”


Cambodia genocide verdict a signal to other perpetrators: US

The historic verdict comes nearly 40 years after the Khmer Rouge were expelled from Cambodia following a four-year reign of terror that left about a quarter of the population dead. (AP)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Cambodia genocide verdict a signal to other perpetrators: US

  • A war crimes tribunal in Cambodia found the Khmer Rouge’s former head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, and “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, 92, guilty of genocide on Friday
  • Let this be a message to other perpetrators of mass atrocities: US State Department

PHNOM PENH: The US has welcomed Cambodia’s landmark genocide verdict and said it served as a warning that perpetrators of mass atrocities, “even those at the highest levels,” will eventually face justice for their crimes.
A war crimes tribunal in Cambodia found the Khmer Rouge’s former head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, and “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, 92, guilty of genocide on Friday and sentenced them to life in prison.
The historic verdict comes nearly 40 years after the Khmer Rouge were expelled from Cambodia following a four-year reign of terror that left about a quarter of the population dead from starvation, mass executions, and overwork.
“Their crimes were numerous, calculated, and grave,” US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said, commending the courage of the victims and witnesses who testified during the trial.
“Let this be a message to other perpetrators of mass atrocities, even those at the highest levels, including former heads of state, that such actions will not be tolerated and they will ultimately be brought to justice,” she said in a statement.
Cambodia’s neighbor Myanmar has come under fire in recent months for its handling of the Rohingya crisis, which United Nations investigators believe amounts to “genocide” given the atrocities perpetrated on the stateless Muslim minority.
Myanmar has denied the allegations but UN investigators have urged that the case be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation and prosecution.
Despite the show of support for war crimes prosecution, the US is one of the few Western countries that is not signed up to the ICC, which has a mandate to investigate the gravest offenses including genocide and crimes against humanity.
The country’s refusal to be party to the body erupted again following an ICC request to open an investigation into alleged war crimes by the US military and intelligence officials in Afghanistan, especially over the abuse of detainees.
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body “unaccountable” and threatened to arrest and sanction judges and other officials of the court if it moved to charge any American.