Duterte wants priests to stop criticizing him from pulpit – Roque

Pia Ranada
Duterte wants priests to stop criticizing him from pulpit – Roque
The President doesn't want criticism of his administration to come from priests, citing the separation of Church and state. He has previously used the presidential podium to comment on religious belief.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants Catholic Church leaders to stop “using the pulpit” to criticize his administration, said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

This was what Duterte supposedly told Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Archbishop Romulo Valles during their one-on-one meeting in Malacañang on Monday, July 9.

“Given there is separation of Church and state, huwag sana gamitin ang pulpito para batikusin ang kanyang administration (they should not use the pulpit to criticize his administration),” said Roque, recalling what the President said.

The spokesman was holding a press conference on Tuesday in Cavite.

Huwag manggaling sa simbahan mismo yung pagbabatikos sa kanya kasi mayroon tayong paghihiwalay ng Church at estado,” he added.

(The criticism should not be coming from the Church because we have separation of Church and state.)

The same day as the meeting, the CBCP released its most stinging critique of the Duterte administration.

While Duterte wants priests to stop using their position to speak negatively about his administration, he himself has used the presidential podium to call God stupid and speak disparagingly about the Bible’s creation story and the Last Supper. 

Religious groups, including Catholic and Christian ones, called the presidential remarks offensive. Malacañang, in response, said Duterte was merely exercising his right to freedom of expression. Vice President Leni Robredo countered that while all citizens have such a right, officials like Duterte are also obligated not to insult people’s sensitivities and respect their beliefs.

It was during the same meeting with Valles that Duterte supposedly promised to temporarily stop making remarks about the Church in his public speeches.

Roque said it was Duterte who mostly spoke while Valles listened. Valles, in a press conference before the one-on-one, said Malacañang initiated the meeting. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.