Palace: Duterte still open to talks with Church leaders

Published January 14, 2019, 5:54 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said that President Duterte is still willing to continue the dialogue with leaders of the Catholic Church following the President’s continued attacks against the institution.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he was willing to mediate the talks between the President and Church leaders.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo
(OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

In his press briefing, Panelo said that Duterte was always open to holding talks with the Church if they ask him to do so.

“Of course. Kung hinihingi ba nila wala namang problema kay Presidente ‘yan. Okay lang ng okay si Presidente (If they will ask for it, it’s not a problem with the President. He is okay with everything),” Panelo said Monday.

“Anything that is beneficial to the nation, palagi siyang gusto. Okay sa kanya lahat ‘yan. Napakadaling kausap si Presidente (He is always for it. He is okay with all of that. He is an easy person to talk to),” he added.

In August last year, Duterte agreed to cease from attacking the Church, even forming a four-man committee to hold dialogues and attempt to mend ties with the institution.
Panelo, however, admitted that he did not know what happened to the said committee.

“Wala. Eh, nag-umpisa lang noong kasagsagan after noon wala na. Eh, siguro nga kasi diba ganyan naman mga Pilipino? Pag may problema, ‘Let’s meet and talk’, and after a while wala na, nakalimutan na naman (Nothing. It started because it was a hot issue then. But maybe Filipinos are just like that. They meet and talk when there is a problem but forget about it after a while),” he said.

Before 2018 ended, Duterte once again issued scalding remarks against the Catholic Church, slamming the clergy for being hypocrites for criticizing him while the institution is facing controversies of their own.

Duterte also said that some priests and bishops were guilty of molestation, rape, and fathering children of their own. He then claimed that 80 to 90 percent of the clergy are homosexuals. The President recently joked that street idlers should rob their bishops because they are rich.

Panelo, meanwhile, expressed doubts if Duterte’s tirades against the Church will have any effect on the faithful.

“The President made many adverse remarks questioning the doctrines of the Catholic Church. And then I heard this priest, ‘yung sa (in the) Nazarene, diba sinasabi niya (he said), ‘It does not affect the faithful,'” he said.

“Kasi ‘yung tayo, like in the Black Nazarene, may kanya-kanyang ano sila personal experience sa kanilang paniniwala sa Diyos. So kahit anong banat mo diyan, kung naniniwala sila, naniniwala talaga sila (Because people, like devotees of the Black Nazarene, they have their personal experience regarding their belief in God. So no matter how much you attack it, if they have faith, then they really have faith),” he added.

Panelo then reiterated that Duterte was only defending himself from members of the clergy who have been using the pulpit in criticizing him and his policies, particularly the drug war which was linked to alleged deaths and human rights violations.

“He’s only defending himself from attacks. It’s self-defense,” he said.

Duterte last week urged the Church to not use their platform in criticizing him as they are becoming more like political parties.

 
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