Seeking an audience with Duterte

By: Stephen D. Capillas March 02,2017 - 10:23 PM


I got wind of reports on former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama’s desperate attempts to seek an audience with President Rodrigo Duterte last Wednesday or specifically Ash Wednesday, which officially kicks off the Lenten season.

Though President Duterte isn’t God by even the remotest stretch of the imagination, any public declaration he makes that would clear anyone he accused of being involved in illegal drugs would help “rehabilitate” his or her image and reputation in the eyes of the public.

The President had cleared and even apologized to some public officials whom he named as drug coddlers, and that was what Rama was counting on as he called up past and present contacts with even the slightest connection to President Duterte to ask them to facilitate a meeting between them.

In the remotest chance that he did meet with President Duterte, I can only imagine that he wouldn’t do what he did in December 2015 in which he got down on one knee — or was it both knees? — looking like a sacristan with his white long-sleeved undershirt as he took off his Barong Tagalog while bewailing the six-month suspension order issued against him by the Palace in a speech he delivered at City Hall.

It was, frankly speaking, an uncomfortable sight. Rama looked a lot more dignified when he appeared before media hours after he was named as a drug coddler by President Duterte.

If a businessman named Peter Lim whom President Duterte accused publicly of being a drug dealer managed to secure an audience with him, it shouldn’t be too hard for a former public official to be given the same chance, now would it?

Anyhow, it isn’t every day that the President visits Cebu so one could only imagine both Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino and Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña also seeking an audience with him, though Dino is expected to meet with Mr. Duterte being his point man in the region.

Whatever happens, one thing is clear: the Cebu-Cordova bridge project is a go and the commuters and motorists of Cebu have at least one more bridge to pass through which would greatly ease up the congestion in the metro area.

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Speaking of which, Ash Wednesday was supposed to kick off the “no meat” requirement every Friday that was set by the Catholic Church for the faithful in observance of the Lenten season.

As a non-Catholic, I find the requirement both interesting and somewhat constrictive, having been allowed to eat anything that doesn’t set off my allergies and personal tastes since childhood.

It also reminded me of strict dietary requirements set by the other two major religions of the world, Judaism and Islam, which are interestingly similar. Both have prohibitions against the consumption of pork and seafood other than fish and both also have religious events which require fasting: Ramadan for the Muslims and Yom Kippur for the Jews.

Still, while the Catholics are only required to abstain from meat every Friday during Lent, the spiritual aspect of fasting is to detach oneself even if only temporarily from worldly distractions.

At least that’s what I got from Fr. Jonathan Rubin who officiated the Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cebu Daily News library. And the detaching from worldly, material distractions starts with the abstinence from meat every Fridays which is admittedly difficult for not just a few Catholics.

But it’s a lot more difficult being on one’s best behavior during the Lenten season. As I wrote this piece, I counted at least five cuss words President Rodrigo Duterte uttered during his tirade against the Catholic Church in yesterday’s speech during the Cebu-Cordova bridge groundbreaking event.

At any rate, it is hoped that everyone, including the President, would be a lot more forgiving and conciliatory with each other during this Lenten season and even beyond.

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