PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte continues to respect the Christian faith, despite his series of harsh words against the Catholic Church, Malacañang said on Friday, January 12.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark, after Duterte was once again under fire for jokingly telling street idlers to “rob” and “kill” moneyed bishops.
Panelo told public to focus on Duterte's recent acts and policies in favor of the Church, and not on his anti-Catholic rants.
“As expected, the detractors of the President are once again condemning him for his latest remarks on the bishops,” the Palace official said in a statement issued late Friday night.
“If only these detractors do not turn a blind eye to the context of the President's speeches and momentarily suspend their incorrigible biases, they will be one with the majority of the Filipinos in comprehending what the President means. As manifested by his actions and policies, the President respects the Christian faith,” he added.
In a speech delivered on Thursday night, January 10, Duterte slammed the Catholic Church leaders, who he called “sons of bitches.”
Still piqued by priests who do not favor his brutal crackdown on illegal drugs, the President said bishops would be better off “robbed” and “killed” since they have lots of money.
Duterte, likewise, said on Thursday that he was willing to be “crucified” during Holy Week, if Catholic clergymen's wrongdoings and immorality, including sexual abuse and corruption, are proven wrong.
Panelo, however, said people should have an “open mind” so they would realize that Duterte was merely “airing his sentiments against some Church leaders who are living in luxury, contrary to their teachings.”
“His (Duterte) use of figures of speech, as we have repeatedly emphasized, is his style in articulating and dramatizing a point,” he said.
“In the case instant, he wishes to stress the failure of some bishops to empathize with the masses as they live comfortably in their rectories while the latter endures the vestiges of poverty,” he added.
Panelo said Filipinos should appreciate Duterte's recent moves, which include the signing of Republic Act 11163 or the National Bible Day Act that “recognizes the value of the Holy Bible, as the core of Christian faith, and of its reading, as a communion between Christians and their Creator.”
He also took note of Duterte's message for all Filipino Catholics and devotees of the Black Nazarene, in time for the observation of annual Traslacion.
Panelo stressed that Duterte even acknowledged the people's enduring devotion to the Black Nazarene, which attests to the Chief Executive's “strong faith” and “reliance” in God.
“The President's actions show that he recognizes the fundamental role of religion in the lives of the Filipino people, all with its rich cultural, social and ethnic diversity. It is therefore his fervent hope that the free exercise of all religions pursuant to the Constitution shall aid and encourage the development of the moral character and spiritual foundation of our citizens,” he said.
Panelo, however, said Duterte, as a “believer” in God, has the duty “to subject some of [Catholic Church] leaders on their hypocritical practices, especially so when some of them commenced the adverse narratives against him using the pulpit and even wishing the President’s demise.”
“If the men of the cloth can unleash tirades against the President then they should be able to receive some lashes from him to return the favor,” Duterte's mouthpiece said. (SunStar Philippines)