PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is considering having "complete conciliation" with the Catholic Church, which he repeatedly blasted for criticizing his brutal war against illegal drugs, Malacañang said on Monday.
Speaking to Palace reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stressed that the government and the Church should not clash with each other but instead should be united in addressing the country's problems.
"It's better to have come to terms on the part of the Church and the government. We are both looking forward to upholding the morality and the rights of our countrymen," Roque said.
"I don't think there should be a conflict. From now on, I think, what I have been reading from the President himself is that he's exerting all efforts to have complete conciliation with the Church and all religious groups," he added.
On Sunday, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) staged a prayer rally at the Edsa Shrine in Quezon City for victims of extrajudicial killings in relation to Duterte's brutal drug crackdown.
CBCP president Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, in a video message, said that the "Lord, Heal Our Land" prayer gathering was open to everyone regardless of political affiliation.
Villegas said the religious activity was meant to ask for "forgiveness for the country that sinned," amid the current administration's drug war.
He said the government, as well as the President, joined the whole nation in praying for the country amid the spate of killings, in connection with the war on drugs.
"We joined the nation in praying for healing. I think the country needs prayer and we express solidarity in the desire of the Catholic Church for the nation to pray for healing," Roque said.
"He (Duterte) would have spoken up against the prayer rally if he wanted to. He did not," he added.
Duterte has been critical of the Church since it denounced his campaign against illicit drugs trade that claimed the lives of thousands of people.
Roque said the Duterte administration respects the Church's prayer gathering, noting that the Chief Executive shared the same view that "unnecessary and illegal" killings should not be tolerated.
He, however, said that despite criticisms, many Filipinos still approved the drug war because they deemed it as "effective" approach to finding peace and order in their respective areas.
"The President condones unnecessary and illegal killings. The President has said it over and over again, he will stand by his men if the killings are as a result of a legal engagement, and he will throw them behind bars if the killings are illegal," he said.
"So that must be the reason why people have not condemned the war against drug and the collateral death arising from the war on drugs. People found the war against drugs as effective and they value the new-found peace and order that they enjoy in their communities," Roque added. (SunStar Philippines)