Duterte says Catholic church should modify mandatory prayer; warns criminals anew

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 March) – The Catholic church should modify its “oratio imperata” (obligatory prayer) not only for the victims of extrajudicial killings but also for the victims of bombings and other forms of criminality, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said at the sixth anniversary rites for the victims of the March 4, 2003 bombing at the waiting shed of the old airport here.

“I never heard the Catholic church come up with a mandatory prayer for victims (of bombings) and other forms of criminality… the church never made it mandatory for us to pray for victims of corrupt people in government… or for priests who go astray,” he said.

The “oratio imperata” was issued by Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla on February 24, mandating Catholics attending the daily and Sunday masses, to recite the prayer “on bended knees” after the Holy Communion for the city’s healing “in view of the unabated series of summary killings” here.

The prayer is to be recited for one year starting Ash Wednesday, February 25.

Earlier, on February 9, the City Council’s Committee on Human Rights and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Davao City chapter organized a multi-sectoral dialogue on the summary killings where the IBP reported 813 victims of summary killings from 1998. In January 2009 alone, 33 persons had been reported killed.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has scheduled a public hearing here on the issue at the end of the month.

Capalla said he composed the prayer “on request of the Davao Clergy especially the Fraternity of Priests headed by Fr. Leonardo Dublan, Jr.”

Duterte at the anniversary rites. Keith Bacongco/AKP Images

In his 18-minute speech at the bomb site,  most of it on the “oratio imperata” Duterte said that when he first assumed the post of mayor in 1988, the city was “topsy-turvy” and he vowed to make it a peaceful place.

“I promised Davao City that it would be peaceful. It would have its cost,” he said, adding the CHR the Integrated Bar of the Philippines “are coming I think this month to conduct an investigation.”

“May I just put something forward. I said that I will make the city as peaceful as it can ever be. I do not deal with day to day crimes. It is not true that we are killing innocent children…But for those high profile crimes. … para malaman ng lahat (for everyone to know), if you traffic drugs, if you are into terrorism, if you go about plunder the people, killing them for no reason at all, you know, let us cut the crap. I intend to do what I set out to do. And if you are into this category, malaman na ng president (let the President know), Human Rights, and whoever would want to listen, you are always in my book, a legitimate target for assassination.”

He said he will give this category of criminals tickets for them to go home. “I will be happy to give you the ticket (home)… or simply reform if you are inside (the city). Kung hindi, talagang patay ka. Wala akong magagawa dyan. Wala talaga akong magawa. (If not, you’re dead. I can’t do anything about that. I can’t do anything).

Duterte blamed Senator Francisco Pangilinan’s  “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006,” calling it “the real culprit.”

The Juvenile Justice law addresses the plight of thousands of children incarcerated along with adult criminals and “institutes a comprehensive juvenile justice system that places children in conflict with the law under diversion programs instead of placing them behind bars.&rdquo

“The real culprit really is the deficiency of the law,” he said, adding that “if your daughter gets raped or your son gets killed,” and the culprit is a  juvenile, he/she does not get punished. “Wala kang (You have no) recourse because it is the law,” Duterte said.

The mayor said “Agdao is peaceful right now” and you can go to any corner in what used to be the largest barangay in the city, with no fear.

“Tapos na trabaho namin diyan (We’ve done our work there),” he said, adding the are now focusing on Bucana (near the river) because “there are lots of criminals there.”

If you’re dealing with drugs, he warned anew, “stop it or go out (of the city).”

Turning to the “oratio imperata,” the mayor said, “now there’s an imperative from the Catholic Church… on extra-judicial killings. I go for it…. As a Catholic, I will pray but prayer, really, just like the law of Pangilinan is inadequate and deficient simply because it zeroes in on extrajudicial killings.”

In mixed English and Filipino, he said, “how do you know this guy is a victim of extrajudicial killing? .. How do you come out with a category like that?”

He said that as mayor, “what we intend to do is to prevent crimes …from happening.”

The prayer begins with: “Our city is wounded in its soul. Our people’s wounds are deep and wide. These wounds are the hatred and dislike of drug addicts and drug pushers, the senseless disregard of due process of law, the violent killing of mere suspects, the crash taking of the law into one’s hands, the lustful greed in the hooded killers on motor bike, the baseless claim that there are no witnesses, the inhuman disrespect for life of the unborn from womb to tomb, and the unjust socio-political system that tolerates all these to happen.”

“Lord, on bended knees, we too confess that our souls and spirit are wounded by our anger and desire for revenge. Yes, we are angry because our loud protests and public outcry have fallen on deaf ears. Our souls are nourishing irresponsible suspicions and rash judgments on the real perpetrators of the crimes. We are wounded by our disunity and hopelessness which imprison our hearts and weaken our willpower. Most of all, Heavenly Father, our souls are wounded by our stark ignorance that we too are responsible for the existence and perpetuation of the systems that promote, condone and abet these social wounds in the soul and spirit of our people. For all these, Lord, we are deeply sorry and beg your mercy and forgiveness, the second of the six-paragraph prayer states. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)