By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is hopeful for a closer relationship with the Church in providing better public service amid the planned dialogue between President Duterte and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippine (CBCP) President Romulo Valles.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque confirmed that the President would have a private one-on-one meeting with the Davao archbishop in Malacañang on Monday.
“I confirm that Archbishop Valles is coming this afternoon. However, it is designated as a private meeting, ” Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
“And PMS (Presidential Management Staff) advised me that even I can’t enter because it will be a one-on-one meeting between Archbishop Valles and the President,” he added.
Roque could not provide details about the possible agenda of the President’s meeting with Valles but expressed hope the cooperative ties between the two institutions would improve.
“On a broader perspective, of course, we would like to see closer cooperation between the State and Church in their desire to serve the people better,” he added.
After the President’s “initial” meeting with Valles, Roque said there would be a meeting arranged between the CBCP and the government panel tasked to hold dialogue with religious leaders.
“Perhaps in the subsequent meeting, there will be an agenda to be formulated and agreed upon by the parties. But for now, it will really be a private one-on-one meeting between the President and Archbishop Valles,” he said.
The planned meeting between Duterte and the CBCP leader comes after the President’s “stupid God” statement triggered outrage from various church groups.
The President has refused to apologize for his disparaging remarks about God and instead opted to pursue dialogue with religious leaders to improve ties.
Roque earlier said the Palace has “high expectations” about the President’s upcoming meeting with Valles amid moves to enhance cooperation between the Church and state on public service. He noted that the two officials have “very good relations” considering they both hail from Davao.
The meeting between Duterte and Valles was among the agreements reached during Roque’s meeting with Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Gabriele Giordano Caccia in Manila late last month.#