A Revolutionary Priest’s Open Letter to the Church People of the Philippines

GRP President Rodrigo Duterte is escalating his vilification of the Catholic Church that has become a hallmark of his rule. He is once again insulting the Vatican and engaging in the character assassination of priests. He is also urging Filipinos to steal from and kill bishops and priests.

What is really behind Duterte’s relentless, menacing and patently mad tirades?

The GRP president’s attacks against the Church are not out of concern or just personal rancor, but a calculating fusillade to prevent the highest institution of moral authority in the predominantly Catholic country and the people from uniting and putting an end to his wicked and bloodthirsty puppet regime.

Confronted with the growing wrath of the people and excoriated as an international pariah for his wanton rights violations, Mr. Duterte is desperately aware of the Church’s moral suasion that could back a broad united front and sway the widely Catholic population against his tyrannical rule. He could very well end up like his idol in despotism, Ferdinand Marcos, and his currently ally, Joseph Estrada, who were deposed by the people who rose up against their brutality, corruption and servility to foreign interests. His slanders are also out of fear of the proven mystique of the Church in giving moral ascendancy to the power of the people in ousting a puny historical freak like him.

The Church has its own faults and as a priest I have witnessed it myself in my time. But my fellow priests and church people, it is through going outside an elegant edifice of marble and gold and linking with the people that our faith becomes truly alive and relevant.

The people are suffering now more than ever, and to the church the voice of the people is the voice of God: They must be heeded.

The people’s basic freedoms are increasingly curtailed and threatened to be done away with altogether. The war on drugs is a war on the poor. Martial law is extended in Mindanao and creeping into the whole country through Duterte’s decrees of Memo 32 and Executive Order 70 that deploy more security forces to Samar, Bicol and Negros and militarize the civilian government in support of the counterrevolutionary war. Instead of pursuing peace talks and addressing the root causes of the civil war, Duterte’s regime has declared all-out war that affects mainly civilians whose communities are terrorized by “peace and development” operations, such as what is happening in Samar.

The Church must cry to the heavens over the wanton violations of the people’s human rights. They can regain the moral high ground over Duterte by listening to the people and showing solidarity with them in their time of hardships under the bloodthirsty regime.

Speak of Christ’s militancy against the oppressors, spread Jesus’s love for the people, for the toiling masses; dare to speak against the Rameseses and Herods of today, the tyrants of the country; speak not only behind the gold-plated pulpit, but dare to speak and engage with the people whom we vowed to serve.

I urge you, my brethren to take action, as in the legions of activists and mass protesters boldly taking the streets to push for democratic demands. Social justice must be sought both in meaningful words and worthy deeds.

Many of our priests, nuns, pastors and laity in Christianity are working on uniting the Filipinos for them to wield their collective power to gain collective good. And the collective good today is exposing the evil tyrant Duterte, joining the broad unity of the people and fighting to be collectively rid of the despicable regime. I encourage those who can go even further as I did, in taking up arms for the liberation of the motherland and the people.

We are Christians who wish for our people’s freedom not in the heavens but here on earth. We wish for a society where our people earn their daily bread. We wish for a society that is void of trespasses, and a society where the masses have the power, and the glory, not a madman who would like to bring his country down with mass murder, massive corruption including engaging in narcopolitics, and puppetry to foreign interests.

In solidarity and in arms,

Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas
National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Eastern Visayas

A Revolutionary Priest’s Open Letter to the Church People of the Philippines