Duterte curses bishops, priests who criticize drug war

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte resumed his word war with the Catholic Church and its leaders, calling some of them "sons of bitches" for criticizing his drug war.

"Mga pari, putangina, bwisit. Mga pa-moral, moral (Priests, sons of bitches, such a nuisance. They claim to be moral)," said Duterte on Monday, October 10, during a speech at a police camp in Zamboanga City.

Duterte blasted priests and bishops for criticizing his anti-illegal drugs campaign, a centerpiece initiative of his administration.

"Paano ko pigilan 'yan? Magpigil ako ngayon, patay ang Pilipinas (How can I stop it? If I stop now, the Philippines is dead)," he said right after cursing priests.

Duterte said he heard about religious leaders "complaining" about the high death toll linked to his war on drugs. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Philippines' drug war)

"I'm really appalled by so many groups and individuals, including priests and bishops, complaining about the number of persons itong dito sa (here in the) operation against the drug problem," said the President.

Duterte went to the extent of insinuating that he knows of bishops with mistresses. (READ: The 100-day word war: Duterte and his critics)

"Pareho kami may kabit din, sila obispo, ako mayor noon (We both have mistresses, though they are bishops and I was once a mayor)," he said.

Duterte has engaged in a word war with the Church, religious groups, and Church leaders since his presidential campaign.

But while Church leaders and groups condemned Duterte specifically when he cursed Pope Francis in November 2015, they have criticized his drug war without referring to him directly.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on September 15 called on law enforcers to respect human rights as they implement the war on drugs. Prior to this, the group issued a statement against the rise of vigilantism in the Philippines.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has also issued strong statements, as an individual bishop, against the administration's drug war. He is the CBCP president.

Previously, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, De La Salle Philippines president Brother Jose Mari Jimenez, Ateneo de Manila University president Father Jose Ramon Villarin, and the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines, among others, took turns in slamming the recent killings.

Over 3,800 deaths have been linked to Duterte's drug war, according to the Philippine National Police.

Of this, around 2,300 are deaths from extrajudicial killings. Over 1,500 of these deaths occurred during police operations. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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