PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, June 13, ignored a Catholic Church leader's call to stop his "verbal persecution" of priests and criticized the clergy anew, saying they are no better than him.
In a speech delivered at Palace’s Rizal Hall, Duterte said that, like him, some priests and Church leaders have illicit affairs.
He called them “crazy” for considering themselves as “saints” while perceiving his government and state forces as “evil.”
“You know, a priest is no better than me. There are priests who have two wives,” Duterte said at the oath-taking of the newly-promoted uniformed personnel.
“The problem (with) these crazed (priests), they see themselves as all saints. On the other hand, the government, the police (and the military) are all evil,” he added.
Duterte made the remark after Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, in a statement issued Monday, June 11, urged him to stop his verbal attacks that have unwittingly encouraged more attacks against priests.
Villegas issued the appeal a day after Fr. Richmond Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan was gunned down in Nueva Ecija as he was about to say Mass. Nilo was the third priest shot dead in the last six months.
In his speech, Duterte acknowledged that he was “eternally at odds” with the Catholic priests.
Despite his continuing tirades against the Catholic Church, the President said he had a matrix of one of the slain priests’ alleged illicit affairs, but he has chosen not to make it public.
He warned that he would not hesitate to present it before the public if the priests continue criticizing him.
“I read, (Villegas asked me to) stop persecuting priests. I never did that... We have (a matrix showing the reason why one of the priests was killed). I have a copy of it. But I suppressed that because that’s not good for the Catholic. It’s because it involves women,” Duterte said.
“If the Catholic wants, I will release the matrix why the priest was killed. I’m only restraining myself. But I gave a copy to the chairman of CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines). But if that’s what Soc Villegas wants, I will release it,” he added.
The President first revealed the matrix in an event held in Cebu last month. He did not name the priest involved but the cover page of the matrix showed the title, “Shooting to Death of Father Mark Anthony Ventura.”
The matrix contained a picture of the slain priest with pictures of eight women. Duterte claimed that Ventura had affairs with women who are married to a vice mayor, a policeman, a soldier and a businessman.
Ventura was killed in Gattaran, Cagayan on April 29, 2018. His killing occurred more than four months after Fr. Marcelito Paez was gunned down on December 4, 2017 in Jaen, Nueva Ecija. (SunStar Philippines)