Malacañang on Thursday embarked on yet another damage-control measure after President Duterte issued a statement urging the public to eliminate “useless and critical” Roman Catholic bishops.
Apparently seeking to downplay the Chief Executive’s fiery, some say murderous, pronouncement, Presidential Spokesman Salvador S. Panelo assured the remark would not incite killings, especially bishops and priests, and should not be taken literally.
“I think that’s [Duterte’s remark] only a hyperbole on the part of the President. We should be getting used to this President. He makes certain statements for dramatic effect.
He added that Duterte may have actually sought to stop criticisms and do some good for this country…[and] help us,” Panelo said in a briefing with Palace reporters on Thursday.
In his speech on Wednesday in Malacañang, Duterte unleashed another tirade against Roman Catholic bishops.
“Itong mga obispo niyo, patayin ninyo. Walang silbi iyang mga gagong iyan. All they do is criticize [These bishops, kill them. They are useless. All they do is criticize],” he said.
Asked if this remark would result to more killings, Panelo said: “No, I don’t think so. [The] majority of the Filipinos, I think, [are] used to this President.”
He also added that the President does not expect an apology from the bishops or the priests who are criticizing his administration.
Moreover, Panelo took the cudgels for the President and said that he may have the basis for such a pronouncement.
In the same speech, Duterte also said that 90 percent of Roman Catholic priests are gays.
“He [Duterte] has been a victim of harassment, sexual harassment, when he was a young boy, remember, he keeps on telling us that. And again, that is a basis, when priest gives us the teachings of God and yet to the opposite, so that makes him hypocritical. But of course, he refers to certain members of the Church,” Panelo said.
The President has repeatedly lashed out against Catholic Church in his speeches.
This, even after Duterte formed a committee to hold dialogue with the Roman Catholic church in June.
Church officials and labor groups on Thursday described Duterte as a “destabilizing” force in the country following his recent tirade against the Catholic clergy.
Commission on the Laity Chairman Bishop Broderick Pabillo expressed alarm over Duterte’s latest outburst, which he said calls on the public to violate the law.
“Any leader who asks that others be killed, not even bishops, is no leader at all. He is instigating people to go against the law. Is this not a work of an destabilizer against the social order?” Pabillo said.
Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People Chairman Bishop Ruperto Santos agreed that the “heartless” speech promotes divisiveness in the country.
“[It is] not only attacking the Church but dividing our country and showing that there is only hatred in his heart. His statement disgraced himself and disappointment to all God fearing citizens of our country,” Santos said.