PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is open to improving relations with the Catholic Church, especially now that the head of Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) hails from his home province in Davao City, Malacañang said Saturday, January 13.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. believed Duterte would be "more interested in mending strained ties with the Catholic religious leaders, following the installation of Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles as CBCP's new president.
"The President always listens to all Filipinos, including the church. And I think the President would even more interested to listen to the CBCP, now that the head of CBCP is from his own home city," Roque said in a press conference in Cebu City.
Valles' leadership comes amid Duterte's critical relations with the Catholic Church under the past CBCP leadership, following their different views on pressing issues, including the thousands of deaths attributed to the government's war on narcotics trade.
His predecessor, former CBCP president Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, was among those vocal against Duterte's drug war, prompting Duterte to lambast the Church in his impromptu speeches.
Duterte had previously branded the Catholic Church as the "most hypocritical institution" for trying to preach while purportedly being engaged in corruption and sexual abuse.
Valles, in a recent interview with CBCP news, said that "communication lines are open" between Church leaders and the Duterte administration.
"Our standpoint is we come from the viewpoint of the gospel and the teachings of the Church. We will continue to engage the government,' Valles, a known friend of the Duterte family, had said. (SunStar Philippines)