By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has called on religious leaders to stay “neutral” and not use God in criticizing him, citing the principle of separation of the Church and the state.
The President said the Church leaders should not use God’s name in vain in hurling criticisms against him or else he would retaliate against them.
“When you criticize me, criticize me with all the heart’s content. Do it. I’m even asking you to do it para malaman ko na hindi kayo agrabyado or agrabyado kayo sa performance ko. Do it (so I’ll know that you’re disappointed with my performance. Do it),” Duterte said during the inauguration of the Malayan Colleges Mindanao in Davao City last Saturday.
“Pero (But) when you are a religious, you have to be something of a neutral dito sa faith mo pati government because it is really the concept of a republican system that there is a separation of Church and state,” he added.
The President reminded the religious leaders critical of his government that the principle of separation of Church and State was “fundamental” and “almost basic.”
“So when you criticize me, do not use the platform of God – that God will send you to hell, that God will never forgive you, hell is waiting for you. Do not do it. Do not take God’s name in vain because pag-resbak ko, makasali ko na ‘yung Panginoong Diyos (because when I retaliate, I’ll drag God too),” he said.
“There is really a clear cut between religion and governance. You cannot use God to criticize me,” he added.
Under the Church-state separation principle in the Constitution, no law shall be made on establishing a religion or prohibiting the exercise of religious belief of its citizens.