By Leslie Ann Aquino
Catholic prelates expressed hope that President Duterte was serious when he appealed to the public not to harm priests.
“Let’s hope he is serious,” Bishop Buenaventura Famadico, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Clergy, said in an interview.
“I hope he is not joking and is finally serious in his statement,” Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo doubts the sincerity of the statement of the president.
“One cannot take his words seriously,” he said.
On Sunday, Duterte warned lawless elements to lay off the members of the religious sector or he would be their enemy.
“Do not do it. Do not try to do it. The religious has nothing to do with the vagaries of life. Lay off…stop threatening them or else I will be your enemy,” he said.
This was contrary to what he suggested to bystanders last January to rob and kill members of the clergy since the bishops are moneyed people.
Duterte also previously said that bishops are better off killed since they are useless anyway.
His statement at that time drew concern from church leaders. The prelates said Duterte’s suggestion to bystanders should be condemned and not laughed at saying such statement is a serious matter.