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A time to be silent

ARCHBISHOP Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, issued a statement the other day after President-elect Duterte accused Filipino bishops and priests of hypocrisy and corruption and criticized the Roman Catholic Church as a “most hypocritical institution.” Archbishop Villegas chose, in response, to invoke “the silence of Jesus before the arrogance of Pilate.”

In recent days, President-elect Duterte has lashed out at so many persons and institutions, starting with drug lords, even announcing monetary rewards for those who kill them. There are reports that the drug lords have now offered their own rewards for Duterte and his incoming Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronaldo dela Rosa.

The president-elect warned three general officers of the PNP that they better resign or he would expose their alleged drug connection and humiliate them. PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez said there is no evidence against the three after an investigation was held.

When the president-elect, urged to act on the unabated killing of journalists, said journalists should not expect special protection if they are corrupt, he drew sharp criticism not only from Philippine media but also from United Nations officials who said there is no justification for the murder of journalists or any citizen, for that matter.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon himself condemned Duterte’s apparent endorsement of extra-judicial killings.

President-elect Duterte said he would no longer give interviews until the end of his term. Any official announcement he had to make, he said, would be made through the government television station PTV 4.

And he has not even begun his term yet.

There is a well-known verse in the Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, that begins: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens; a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal….” Further along, it says, “a time to be silent and a time to speak.”

Archbishop Villegas believes this is a time to be silent. “There is virtue in silence. There is virtue in speech.

Wisdom is knowing when it is time for silence and when it is the time for speech,” he said. It is unfortunate President-elect Duterte is beginning his administration with so much controversy and criticism because of his words and his ways. It may be best for all concerned to step back, withhold any further attack and criticism, to be silent, and allow action to speak for itself.