Duterte pauses as Angelus rung during speech

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte expressed that he believes in God as he paused his speech to give way to the tolling of church bells at exactly 6 p.m. Wednesday night.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte witnesses the program proper during the  81st anniversary celebration of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) at the Gymnasium of the GSIS Financial Center in Pasay City on June 19, 2018. RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

In his speech, Duterte was talking about the murder of three Catholic priests, where one he said were involved in illicit love affairs with the wives of prominent people.

Duterte said he would release the information that the Philippine National Police (PNP) gave him if the Catholic Church would push him to do so.

"Pero marami akong... ayaw ko kasi. Nandito sa akin 'yung... Pero 'yung pari na binaril, siya 'yung mag-blowout ng baptism ng kanyang anak. Siya ang mag-baptize, siya rin ang mag-blowout sa (I have information but I don't want to show it. But the priest who was shot, he would have baptized his own kid and throw a party for it, too)..." he said, referring to Father Mark Ventura who was shot to death last April.

"Ako (Me), I do not want it. But if the Catholic Church would... pati 'yung unang namatay (even the first priest who was killed)," he added.

"Magkabit ka ng asawa ng pulis, magkabit ka ng asawa vice mayor. Magkabit ka ng mga negosyanteng may pera, mamatay ka talaga (You have an affair with the wives of a policeman, a vice mayor, and a rich businessman, you'll really die)," he continued.

But then, as he was about to continue his speech, Duterte stopped talking as he heard the church bells ring.

"Angelus 'to? Angelus 'yon? Call it... may dasal kayo niyan? If there is Katoliko, magdasal tayo dito. Baka magalit ang pari (Is this the Angelus? Do you pray for that? If there are Catholics here, then let's pray. The priest might get mad)," he said.

But then, Duterte said that as a Christian, he respects the tolling of the bells.

"I do not want to create a scene but you know I have my duty. I am a Christian and I believe in God," he said.

"I respect the tolling of the bells. And may... there's a movie there, 'For whom does the bell tolls? It tolls for thee.' Kanino 'yang tolling of the bells. Para sa iyo 'yan (For whom are the bells tolling? For you)," he added.

Duterte has been lashing out at the Catholic Church for criticizing his administration's controversial statements and policies including the drug war, the push for the revival of capital punishment, and the House of Representatives' push for divorce.

Earlier, Lingayen Archbishop Socrates Villegas and other members of the clergy said in a statement that Duterte's "verbal persecution" unwittingly encourages attacks on priests.

Malacañang earlier said that Duterte's statements against the Catholic Church are not enough basis to spark the killings of members of the clergy.

The Palace, however, assured that the government and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have mounted investigations into these crimes, and have vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Early this month, Father Richmond Nilo was slain by unidentified gunmen. He is the third priest to be slain since December 2017. The first one was Father Tito Paez in Jaen, Nueva Ecija, Followed by Ventura.

Duterte said that he never encouraged the public to attack priests as he claimed that his tirades against the Catholic Church are not enough to cause the murder of three members of the clergy during the past six months.

"May nabasa ako. Sabi (I read something which said), 'Stop persecuting priests.' Wala naman akong sinabi (I never said anything)," he said last week.

Duterte, in a speech last month, showed the matrix of Ventura's supposed love affairs with the wives of prominent people. The matrix was titled, "Possible Motive (Love Triangle)."