Duterte writes letter to Pope Francis

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has written a personal letter addressed to Pope Francis, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza said.

On Wednesday, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) released a photo of Duterte's letter to the Pope, which was carried by Dureza in his trip to Rome, Italy.

"Your Holiness, with profound respect, I have the honor to extend my own and my people's warmest greetings to Your Holiness," Duterte said in a letter for Pope Francis.

Duterte also noted in his letter that the Filipino people could not forget his five-day papal visit in the country in January 2015.

"Our countrymen remember Your Holiness' apostolic visit in 2015 with deep appreciation, knowing that it was made with the most sincere regard for the welfare of the Church's flock," the President said.

"The Philippines values its special relations with the Holy See and regards with gratitude Your Holiness' gracious stewardship of the Catholic faith," he added.

Ending his message, Duterte asked Pope Francis, "Please accept, Your Holiness, the assurances of my highest esteem and respect."

On Tuesday night, Dureza announced in a Facebook post that he had with him the President's letter to Pope Francis.

Dureza is now in Rome, Italy for the third round of peace dialogue with the communist group.

Dureza said he would give the letter to Pope on Wednesday morning at the Vatican City in Rome.

In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella initially said the content of the President's letter for the Pope is confidential.

"The letter is not open to others. It is simply directed to the Pope," Abella said, when asked to divulge the message of Duterte to the Pope.

Asked then if Duterte, in his letter, expressed intention to visit the Pope in the Vatican, Abella said, "Probably so."

The President had drawn flak following his profanity-laced statement against the Pope for allegedly causing traffic jam during his visit in the country in January 2015. (SunStar Philippines)

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