President Rodrigo Duterte said he has no intention to take part in the celebrations dedicated to the 500th anniversary of Christianity’s arrival to the Philippines, Breibart reports. Philippine bishops have declared they will celebrate this date in 2021 with or without head of state.
President Duterte expressed his opinion regarding the upcoming anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines and stressed he will not commemorate the “subjugation” of the country by Spanish colonizers.
“Why would I celebrate the arrival of the Spanish here? Why would I?” Duterte said in a speech on September 6. “They came to this country as imperialists. We were not Spanish and they subjugated us for 300 years. That’s painful for me,” Duterte said.
These words of the national leader provoked sharp responses from a number of the nation’s Catholic bishops, who said that president was making a big mistake in not getting behind the landmark anniversary.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan insists that in 2021 Filipinos will not be celebrating colonialism but “the Christian faith”. According to a bishop, they welcomed Christianity as a gift, which opened the brightest perspectives for every believer in the Philippines.
Other religious leaders are united in their opinion that unwillingness of Duterte to celebrate the anniversary in 2021 is not a wise decision. The national leader just loses the opportunity to be with his people who mostly will celebrate the 500th anniversary.
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon issued a more forceful rebuke of Rodrigo Duterte, saying his attitude reflected historical ignorance as well as disdain for Christianity.
“It is not only the coming of Christianity that we celebrate but the great significance of Magellan’s voyage that proves Galileo’s theory that the world is round,” Bishop Bastes said.
Bastes said that Duterte needed “a lecture on the history of the world and of our country.” By opting out of the celebrations, Duterte shows he is “ignorant of the significance” of Ferdinand Magellan who arrived in Cebu Island, Philippines, on March 1521, where he planted a cross.