Ateneo de Davao president to Duterte: 'Don't be a monster'
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – “Don’t become a monster.”
These were the words of caution of Ateneo de Davao University president Fr Joel Tabora for president-elect Rodrigo Duterte during a forum on Wednesday, May 25.
Tabora, a highly-esteemed academic, called a gathering of the university’s professors to discuss the school’s thoughts on the upcoming Duterte presidency.
“We want to support you, but be the person we see in you. Don't be a monster. Don't be this person that has been referred to as the dark side of Digong – the death squads, the person who does not care about civil liberties,” he said.
Fr Tabora of Ateneo de Davao to Duterte: Be the person we see in you. pic.twitter.com/bjxmb9Tpey— Pia Ranada (@piaranada) May 25, 2016
At a press conference after the forum, Tabora said Duterte, set to become the most powerful man in the country, should not give in to “hubris.”
He appealed to Duterte to live up to his professed respect for law.
“I hope that he remains true to his word that he will respect the laws of the land, he will not work outside of the law, that he will not work with death squads on a national scale and therefore become a dictator that, in hubris, in excess, may become a monster,” Tabora said at a press conference after the forum.
The power of the presidency may become intoxicating, he said. With Duterte’s tough talk on killing and his penchant for strict rules, some perceive him to be a dictator in the making.
“Once you feel you don’t need law and you have so much followers, that power becomes very dangerous as we’ve seen in the past,” said Tabora.
But asked if Duterte is especially vulnerable to such power-tripping, Tabora said: “Everybody is vulnerable to that, even me. Give me absolute power and I’ll be vulnerable, that’s why we have separation of power and he is respecting that.”
Human rights groups have accused Duterte of involvement in death squads who have allegedly murdered around 1,700 people since the 1990s.
'Catholics voted for Duterte'
Tabora also had words of caution for certain leaders of the Catholic Church in the Philippines who have issued statements on Duterte.
The president-elect and members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) are engaged in a word war on his frequent cursing, recommendations of a 3-child policy, and death penalty, among other issues.
“I don’t think the rhetoric is helpful in the process of reconciliation. I think it would be good for everybody to let Mr Duterte form his government and perform and actually show how he is going to bring about the change he promises,” he said.
Tabora also called for humility from leaders of the Catholic Church.
“I think the Church has to take a very, very humble stance, a very, very reflective stance,” he said, referring to Duterte’s criticisms of the church as a sinful institution with its own tainted history.
Fr Joel Tabora of Ateneo de Davao: Church has to take a humble, reflective stance regarding Duterte's criticisms pic.twitter.com/6tZ7C2YlWk— Pia Ranada (@piaranada) May 25, 2016
Duterte has slammed the Church for sexual abuses of priests and corruption. Tabora called on the Church to show “more reflectiveness of the sinfulness of the Catholic Church” and to not be “so judgmental and absolute in our condemnatory statements.”
Tabora called Duterte a “man of the poor” who was, at the end of the day, voted by mostly Catholics.
The Church, he said, would do well to listen to this majority.
“I think we have to see that a great number of people who voted for Mr Duterte are Catholics. Despite the fact that some bishops are saying, 'Don’t vote for him,' they still voted for him. The hierarchy has to listen to this. What are the people of God saying?” said Tabora.
Fr Joel Tabora of Ateneo de Davao: Church leaders have to listen to choice made by many Catholics for Duterte pic.twitter.com/IkCdClop6Q— Pia Ranada (@piaranada) May 25, 2016
Another Ateneo de Davao University professor, Theology Department Chairman Lunar Fayloga, had the same sentiments.
An admitted Duterte supporter, Fayloga called on those opposing Duterte to become “critical collaborators” instead of antagonizers. – Rappler.com