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09/09/2019 Philippines (International Christian Concern) – On Friday, Sept. 6, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte stated that there is no need to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Catholic majority country in 2021.

Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony in the City of Naga, Cebu, Duterte linked the arrival of Christianity to colonialism. “Why would I celebrate the arrival of the Spanish here? Why would I?” he said.

“You know, they came to this country as imperialists. We are not Spanish and they subjugated us for 300 years. That’s painful for me… And yet I was asked for a commemoration for the 500 years since they arrived here,” he added.

“When Magellan arrived here, he brought with him cannons and a cross, so we became Christians. We didn’t have a religion back then. But because they brought the cross, religion, cannons and guns, the natives yielded. They were scared,” he continued.

For him, celebrating the Quincentennial of Christianity would mean celebrating the country’s subservience to a foreign power.

In response to the President’s remarks, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said the commemoration in 2021 would not be a celebration of Spanish colonial rule but of the Christian faith.

David stressed that while Spanish colonizers did use Christianity “to pursue their colonial purposes,” the early Filipinos were “intelligent enough to accept what was good and reject what was evil in what the Spaniards had brought.”

“Let us therefore make it clear: What we will celebrate in 2021 is not colonialism but the Christian faith that the natives of these islands welcomed as a gift, albeit from people who were not necessarily motivated by the purest of motives. God can indeed write straight even with the most crooked lines,” he shared on his Facebook page on Saturday.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].