Philippine economy

In 24 hours, Duterte breaks vow to stop hitting the Church

Paterno Esmaquel II
In 24 hours, Duterte breaks vow to stop hitting the Church
Referring to millions of Filipinos who voted for him, President Rodrigo Duterte claims, 'Sila ang Diyos ko'

MANILA, Philippines – Within 24 hours after President Rodrigo Duterte promised a “moratorium” on talking about the Catholic Church, the chief executive on Tuesday, July 10, again blasted his Catholic critics and continued to call God stupid. 

Duterte claimed in an interview that he was not referring to the Catholic Church on Tuesday. Even without naming it, however, his allusions to foreign missionaries and religious critics pointed to the Philippines’ biggest religious group.

The Catholic Church is the strongest voice against the spate of killings under Duterte’s regime. It is also the Catholic Church’s teaching on creation and original sin, and the actions of Catholic missionary Sister Patricia Fox, that Duterte refers to in his speeches.

In apparent reference to foreign missionaries like Fox, Duterte said: “Huwag mo akong bigyan ng, turista ka dito (Do not give me something like, you’re a tourist here), then you come here under the cloak of what religion, and start to blabber your mouth and attack us.” 

Duterte then pointed out “a separation of powers between any church and state.”

“Huwag mong isali ang Diyos mo doon sa platform of your criticism in your attack because when I answer, ‘pagka sinabi mo sa isyu, sinali mo ang Diyos, putang ina, patay ang Diyos na ‘yan,” the President said.

(Do not include your God in your platform of your criticism in your attack because when I attack, if you include God in the issue, son of a bitch, I’ll get back at that God.)

“I have the right to answer. There is a separation of powers. Why are you fucking… the name of the Lord against me?” Duterte said.

Duterte: ‘I am not attacking the Church’

Duterte made these remarks around 5:30 pm in a business event at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga on Tuesday.

It was only around 24 hours since Duterte met with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). The meeting took place around 4 pm in Malacañang for about 30 minutes. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque claimed that Duterte “agreed to a moratorium on statements about the Church after the meeting.” 

On his meeting with Valles, Duterte said in a chance interview on Tuesday, “We were discussing some modality of behavior, but definitely that would not prevent me from just saying my truth.”

On his latest speech, Duterte claimed, “I am not attacking the Church. What I said that if you use religion as a format, I was not referring to any religion.” He said he could be referring to Christian evangelists who want to talk to him – even as his earlier speeches mostly singled out Catholic bishops and priests.

Duterte fueled public outrage after he called God stupid and claimed his own God “has common sense.” 

‘Sila ang Diyos ko’

Despite drawing intense criticism for calling God stupid, however, Duterte on Tuesday repeated his argument.

“You know, my God never created hell, because if he created hell, he must be a stupid God. My God is not stupid to create man just to burn him in hell. Hindi ako naniniwala ng gano’n eh (I do not believe in that). I do not believe in heaven because if I do, only a fraction of you will ever enter heaven,” he said.

He said hell “is fiction.”

Who, then, is Duterte’s God? The President gave an answer on Tuesday.

“I survived the elections with 6 million,” Duterte said, referring to his voters.

Then raising his voice to prove his point, he continued: “‘Yan ang Diyos ko (That is my God) – 6 million Filipinos plus the others who voted for me above the margin, and those who really voted for me.”

Duterte won the elections with 16.6 million votes. 

“Sila ang Diyos ko (They are my God),” the President said.

In apparent reference to the Christian God, Duterte said: “Hindi ko man nakikita. Gusto ko man tumulong diyan sa Diyos na ‘yan, wala man ako magagawa. Hindi ko man siya nakikita.” (I cannot see that God. However I want to help that God, I can do nothing. I cannot see that God.)

“Pero dito sa mundong ‘to nakikita ko ang impyerno. Dito ko yayariin ‘yang mga putang inang ‘yan. Sinabi ko do not destroy my country because I will really kill you. Do not destroy the young, our children,” Duterte added.

(But in this world, I can see hell. This is where I will kill those sons of a bitch. I said do not destroy my country because I will really kill you. Do not destroy the young, our children.)

Duterte ran on a platform of stopping crime and illegal drugs in 3 to 6 months, a promise unfulfilled as he begins his 3rd year in office.

More than 23,000 Filipinos – including children – have been killed in both police operations and vigilante killings as Duterte pursues his anti-drug campaign. –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at