Many Filipinos, including leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, regarded Monday's presidential election in their country as a fight between good and evil. The result speaks for itself.
Rodrigo Duterte—a politician likened by some analysts to Cambodia's Pol Pot who has promised to turn the Philippines into a killing fields for criminals and corrupt officials, and who has admitted having led such extrajudicial killings as the long-time mayor of Davao City in Mindanao—is on his way to winning the Philippine presidency via a landslide, getting over 15 million votes, 6 million votes more than his closest rival, Aquino administration candidate Mar Roxas, with 89 percent of the votes counted as of Tuesday morning, various news sources report.
Days before Monday's election, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on Catholic voters not to vote for a presidential candidate who is an admitted serial human rights violator, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
In a pastoral letter titled "A Matter of Conscience," Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro City, a Jesuit priest just like Pope Francis, blamed the mayor in the extrajudicial killings of 1,424 individuals in Davao City. "These killings are immoral, illegal and sinful," the archbishop said, adding that such killings could never be justified.
A Redemptorist priest, Fr. Amado Picardal, said among the victims were 57 females and 132 young people ages 12 to 17.
Priests and nuns gathered together praying and telling their flocks not to vote for Duterte.
Duterte simply shrugged off the Catholic bishops' criticism, saying the election would serve as a referendum for him and the prelates.
"Some bishops came out saying 'Do not vote for Duterte.' I said let this election be a sort of a referendum, a sort of a plebiscite for the Church and me," Duterte told the editors and reporters of the Philippine Daily Star on Wednesday.
He actually urged Catholics "to heed the call of the bishops" and not vote for him.
"They say it would be a sin to vote for me. Good. If I lose I will not die. You should listen to the bishops not to vote for me. That's right. Anyway, I don't believe in the bishops," he added.
Duterte also vowed that the Catholic Church would have no role under his administration.
"No more. Why should I acknowledge them? They say I should not be elected. I will not die if the Catholics will not vote for me," he said.
Underscoring his difference with the Roman Catholic Church, he said he supports family planning, both modern and natural methods, stressing that the ideal number of children per family is only two to three so they could be raised properly.
Aside from having anti-Catholic views, Duterte has shown little respect for women, even fantasizing about being first in line in gang raping a murdered Australian missionary as he himself admitted.
He has also announced his alliance with the Communists, showing deference to the exiled leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines Jose Maria Sison, also a known mass murderer, whom he called "Sir" in one recent news conference.
Duterte came to power in 1988 in Davao City, a city known to international media as the murder capital of the Philippines, due in large part to a communist insurgency, the International Business Times reports.
Over the years, Duterte was able to curb the insurgency by pursuing a ruthless war on crime. He has been elected to the mayoralty no fewer than seven times.
"We're the ninth safest city. How do you think I did it? How did I reach that title among the world's safest cities? Kill them all," Duterte reportedly said last year.