Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte once again turned a ho-hum event into a full-on rant yesterday. His latest headline-grabbing statement? Apparently, he’s willing to be crucified if the Catholic Church is able to refute allegations of abuse and corruption.
He said this during a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Gen. Gregorio T. Del Pilar National High School in Bulakan, Bulacan.
Like always, he first ranted about the church criticizing him for the alleged human rights abuses committed by his administration.
His rant starts at around the 57:00 mark of this video posted by the Presidential Communications Office.
“When you criticize me, maybe you find a seat outside of the church and [do the] interview there. But do not use the pulpit and your homily to attack me. Because there is a separation of church and state,” Duterte said in English in Filipino.
He then brought up that time a priest joked about praying for Duterte to get sick while celebrating a mass for opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
“You are treading into dangerous grounds,” Duterte said. “That’s why I don’t go after individuals anymore but the Church.”
And he went after them alright.
Duterte went on to talk about how he and his classmates were allegedly abused by priests from the Ateneo de Davao University.
He then, once again, encouraged the captive audience to read the book Altar of Secrets: Sex, Politics, and Money in the Philippine Catholic Church.
Duterte is fond of promoting this book during his speeches and infamously gave it to an Overseas Filipino Worker in Seoul in exchange for a kiss.
This was when he uttered his promise (Or joke?) to get crucified. He said: “Kung masagot nila ito at sabihin nilang may isang bagay dito na mali, abangan ninyo ang Holy Week. Dito ako magpalansang sa krus sa Bulacan.”
This translate to: “If they’re able to answer [this book] and say that there is one thing wrong, wait for Holy Week. I’ll have myself nailed to the cross here in Bulacan.”
Crucifixions are still fairly common in the Philippines where it is a devotional practice during Good Friday, as a way of imitating Jesus’s suffering.
It’s a grim tradition that even the Catholic Church distances itself from but Duterte’s comment was met with giggles from the audience.
Towards the end of his speech, Duterte gave away copies of the book to some audience members before telling the clergy: “Do not impose one God for all of us. I believe in God but not necessarily your God.”
The gospel according to Duterte, everyone.