By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Many Filipinos are getting “uncomfortable” with the word war between President Duterte and leaders of the Catholic Church, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Monday.
Sotto made the observation as he explained his plan to host a dialogue between the Chief Executive and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
“Well, marami na kasi sa mga kababayan natin ang uncomfortable with the situation na may nababato, may bumabato pabalik — ang Palasyo at ang ang leadership of the Catholic Church, especially the bishops and the priests. So might as well try to find a dialogue. Subukan ko lang, wala namang mawawala,” Sotto told reporters in chance interview in Senate.
(Well, many of our country are already uncomfortable with the situation where one attacks, the other hits back — particularly, between the Palace and the leadership of the Catholic Church, especially the bishops and the priests. So I might as well try to find a dialogue. I will just try, I won’t lose anything for it, anyway.)
A devout Catholic and, at the same time, a close ally of the President, Sotto clarified that no one asked him to mediate but said “ideas” were raised to him that the feud between the two sides may be resolved through a dialogue.
He said he has yet to officially communicate with the CBCP about his plan but has already sent “feelers” through his friends in the Catholic Church. He said he will try to “find out more about their perspective.”
As for the President, the Senate chief said he will take advantage of his first meeting with Duterte this year to personally tell him about his planned dialogue.
He said he expects to meet Duterte this week to report out the Senate’s stand against a bicameral conference committee on the proposed abolition of the graft-ridden Road Board.
“We’ll try to mediate, if it’s possible at all. If not, then at least we tried,” he said.
In a radio interview last Saturday, Sotto initially bared his plan to arrange a “peace talk” between the CBCP and President Duterte.
He said Duterte has a right to be angry and hit back at the Church as priests, too, enjoy their right to criticize the President in their homilies.
President Duterte, in his speech recently, told street idlers to rob and kill the bishops since they are rich.
He said that priests tell their parishioners that he is possessed by demons and supposedly wish he dies.