Duterte promises Rome visit after elections, says sorry for pope curse

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, February 10, went to Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg to apologize for cursing Pope Francis in one of his speeches, and said he would visit Rome after the May elections.

Duterte went to visit Utleg before speaking to supporters in Tuguegarao on the second day of his official campaign. 

“I am the mayor who [said] the name of the Pope in vain. And I am here to offer my apology and I promise to go to Rome after the election,” Duterte told Utleg. 

Duterte had since clarified that the curse was not aimed at the Pope but at the traffic the visit had caused.

The tough-talking mayor clarified that his apology and his plan to go to Rome should not be viewed as propaganda. He added that he “truly regrets” what he said.

Utleg earlier said he is not expecting Duterte to apologize for his words.

“I don’t like what he (Duterte) was saying especially [about] the Pope, and [I don't like] his attitude towards women. I believe it’s not respect [for] their dignity,”Utleg said.

But the Archbishop said he would give Duterte a chance.

“But I give him the benefit of the doubt. There are positive things that are said of him. I think he should be given a chance,” he said.

The promise of a Rome visit does not appear to be all too new, however. Sources close to Duterte said he had planned to go to the Vatican to personally apologize for his cursing the Pope, slating it for the end of January. Duterte campaign manager Leoncio Evasco Jr, however, said his main target was the Filipino workers based in Rome.

Back in Tuguegarao, Duterte made rounds of the city before speaking to a crowd of about 1,000 – mostly students – at the University of Cagayan Valley. Meanwhile, Senator and vice presidential candidate Allan Cayetano did not join Duterte in Tuguegarao. – Rappler.com