President Duterte has invited his countrymen to “come join me” in hell for breaking the fifth commandment in the prosecution of his war on drugs.
Speaking at a press briefing, the president admitted that his anti-drugs campaign was a breach of “thou shalt not kill” and said: “You Catholics, if you believe in your priests and bishops, you stay with them. If you want to go to heaven, then go to them.
“Now, if you want to end drugs… I will go to hell. Come join me.”
The president was speaking in the light of increasingly vocal opposition from the Church to his anti-narcotics crusade, which has been linked to more than 7,000 deaths.
A ‘pastoral letter’ read out in the nation’s churches on Sunday stated that, “it was disturbing that many people in the majority Catholic nation were indifferent to the killings, or even approved of them.” The letter went on to describe the president’s drug war as a “reign of terror.”
It’s not the first time strong words have been exchanged between the president and the church. He once called the Pope a “son of a bitch” for causing traffic chaos during a visit to Manila.
Also, he recently berated the Church hierarchy, telling them they were “full of shit” and “smelly” (read more here). The insult — along with accusations of corruption, child abuse and bigamy — came just days after he had announced that January was to be designated as ‘National Bible Month’. (Read more here.)
The president has also clashed with the church over his plan to distribute condoms to school children, in a bid to hold back the rising tide of HIV infections and teenage pregnancy.
He has also signed an executive order to offer six million poverty-stricken women free contraception and reproductive health services. The law has yet to be fully implemented because of the Catholic Church’s efforts to block it.
The president is no stranger to controversy, having previously cited Adolf Hitler as a positive role model for his war on drugs (casting a dark shadow over the country’s commendable history of of offering refuge to the Jewish people, find out more here), cussed out numerous world leaders and apparently admitted to throwing somebody out of a helicopter.
The killings linked to his nationwide war on drugs have recently been condemned by Amnesty International as “a crime against humanity”. (See our report here.) Asked about the human rights watchdog’s report, his justice secretary replied that because addicts and pushers “weren’t human” the accusation was meaningless.