Duterte raises questions on EDSA Shrine construction

By Genalyn Kabiling

There could be a violation of the principle of separation of the church and state if the government paid for the construction of EDSA Shrine, President Duterte said Tuesday night.

President Rodrigo Duterte (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN) President Rodrigo Duterte (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The President raised doubts about the funding behind the church construction after justifying the controversial government expense on the Southeast Asian Games cauldron.

"Without really negating the holiness of Mama Mary, sinong naggastos niyan? Kung ang naggastos niyan ang Katoliko… Pero ang naggastos niyan ang gobyerno ," he said during a press conference at the Palace.

"Why? I thought there is a separation of church and state? So just because you were invoking somebody there and you attribute your victory to the lady, and you make a shrine," he said.

The President later admitted that he was not certain if EDSA Shrine was built through private donations or government funds.

"I don’t know if it’s a --- if it’s a donation, fine. But if it’s a government, I really would say that it is a violation of our church and state principle," he said.

The Catholic shrine, located at the corner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue in Quezon City, was built in 1989 in honor of the Our Lady for the peaceful People Power Revolution in 1986. The historic EDSA shrine, situated on a land donated by the Ortigas and Gokongwei families, was designed by the late National Artist for Architecture Francisco Mañosa.

Duterte mentioned the EDSA shrine just as he was trying to defend the P45-million cauldron that will carry the symbolic flame of the SEA Games. The structure, also designed by Mañosa, was not extravagant as claimed by Senator Franklin Drilon, the President insisted.

"Mañosa was commissioned by the government to create ‘yung nakita mo ‘yung kaldero ngayon. It is a product of the mind. You cannot estimate how much nalugi ka because it is the rendition of the mind of the creator," he said.

"When you begin to be too trivial about it, it’s 45 million but compared to the extravagance of everybody, lahat diyan sa gobyerno, including you, lahat tayo, because we have our own mind," he added.