By Genalyn Kabiling
After meeting with the leader of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Monday, President Duterte met with Bro. Eddie Villanueva of the Jesus is Lord movement to explain to the religious leader the reason for his recent attacks against God and the church.
Secretary Salvador Panelo, who was present during the meeting held Tuesday night in Malacanang Park, disclosed that based on the “body language and remarks” of Villanueva, the discussion between the Christian evangelist and the President was a success.
Panelo said the meeting lasted two and a half hours.
“Tuwang-tuwa siya at ang linaw daw ng paliwanag ni President, mali ang intindi,” Panelo quoted Villanueva as saying after the meeting.
Earlier, despite agreeing to stop his attacks on the Catholic Church, President Duterte said he was still determined to continue to speak the “truth” and fire back at religious leaders who are using God to criticize him.
The President said he has the “right to answer” back as he launched another tirade against Church leaders critical of his administration.
“Do not ever, ever include God in your platform to attack me. You know why? There is whale of difference when it comes to governance. There is a separation of power between any church and state,” Duterte said during an entrepreneurship summit in Pampanga last Tuesday.
Duterte, in a later media interview, clarified that he was “not attacking the Church” with his latest warning against those using the pulpit in their criticisms against him. He claimed that he did not single out any religion when he made such comment.
“I am not attacking the Church, what I said that if you use religion as a format and I was not referring to any religion, kung makita mo wala akong binanggit na relihiyon [if you can see, I did not mention any religion],” he said.
But Duterte explained that the moratorium on statements about the Church reached in a meeting with Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles would not stop him from voicing the truth.
“We were discussing some modality of behavior, but definitely that would not prevent me from just saying my truth,” he said.
The President insisted that he was “a great believer of God and destiny.” He said his God was “forgiving,” and was neither rude nor stupid.
“Ang Diyos ko hindi nagmumura [My God does not hurl invectives]. As a matter of fact, ang Diyos ko walang sinasabi except the 10 Commandments,” he said.
“You know my God never created hell. Because if He created hell, He must be a stupid God. My God is not stupid to create man just to burn him in hell. Hindi ako naniniwala ng ganun [I don’t believe in that],” he said, adding he didn’t believe in heaven as well.
Duterte then said he considers the millions who voted for him as his God.
Duterte, who stopped being a Catholic since he was molested by a priest in high school, also reiterated his offer to resign if anyone can prove God’s existence with a selfie.
The President, however, stood firm that he would not apologize for his controversial statement about God despite a call from Bro. Eddie Villanueva.
“As a matter of principle I will not. I would rather lose the presidency, lose the honor, lose my life. That could not be more clear,” he added.
Tags: Angelino Villanueva, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Catholic Church, CBCP, Eddie Villanueva, Jesus is Lord movement, President Duterte, religious leader, religious leaders, Salvador Panelo, The President, Villanueva