‘Just pray’ for Duterte, Malacañang tells Bataan bishop
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday, January 15, called on Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, Bataan, to "just pray" for President Rodrigo Duterte instead of using "unsavory language" to describe the Philippine leader.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement a day after the Bishop criticized the Duterte presidency as a "disgrace to the country" not only because of the President's repeated attacks against the Catholic Church, but also because of his public statements that spread hate and division.
“We are sad with the remarks of Balanga, Bataan, Bishop Ruperto Santos that the Duterte presidency is a disgrace to the country, especially coming from a man of the cloth,” Panelo said in a Palace news briefing.
“The good bishop of Balanga should pray for the President, the way we pray for the Bishop’s enlightenment, that PRRD may run the affairs of the country well instead of lambasting him,” he added.
Panelo said Santos was apparently “uninformed or ignoring” the results of the latest surveys, which showed Duterte’s continued high public approval and trust rating.
“His style in delivering speeches is factored in this survey,” he said.
In an interview on Radio Veritas on Monday, Santos said Duterte’s presidency “is a disappointment and disgrace to our country,” after the President urged bystanders to “rob and kill rich bishops.”
In defense of Duterte, Panelo said on Tuesday, “Like the Bishop, the President is imperfect, but unlike him PRRD looks at the innate goodness of man.”
“What is a disgrace is when a member of the clergy uses unsavory language against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who only fulfills and complies with his constitutional mandate to lead the government in serving the Filipinos and protecting them from what bedevils our society,” he added.
Panelo also said that Malacañang finds it “very unfortunate that Bishop Santos fails to follow the teaching of Christ that if someone throws a stone at you, throw a piece of bread at him in response.”
In November 2018, amid Duterte's tirades against the Catholic Church, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David called on Filipino Catholics to pray for the country and for Duterte, who, he said, “is a very sick man.”
Duterte, in response, accused David – among the most outspoken Catholic Church leaders against his anti-drugs campaign – as himself into drugs and that he stole from Church coffers, allegations that David categorically denied.
In December 2018, Duterte said bishops should be "killed" for supposedly doing nothing but criticize his administration. – Mia Gonzalez/Rappler.com