By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said that President Duterte’s recent remark to kill bishops is just a hyperbole that the President uses for dramatic effect.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Duterte said that people should kill bishops because they know nothing but criticize the government.
In his Thursday press briefing, Panelo said that Duterte only meant that the Church should stop criticizing the government’s efforts, and instead help the administration address the country’s problems.
“I think that’s only a hyperbole on the part of the President. We should be getting used to this president. He makes certain statements for dramatic effect. But he actually means stop criticizing and do some good for this country. Help us,” Panelo said.
Panelo said that Duterte is not threatening the Church and did not mean what he said. He explained that Duterte was just expressing his emotions like any ordinary person would when their effort are not being appreciated.
“The President, just like any ordinary human being, is upset when the good things that he does for this country is not even appreciated by people who are supposed to support, like the Church,” he said.
“The President is not threatening. What I said is, he has been criticized, and the President is saying that, instead of criticizing, or you can even criticize, but at the same time you give us constructive suggestions,” he added.
The Palace official also said that Duterte’s recent scalding remark against the Catholic Church cannot prompt killings against members of the priesthood as people are already used to him.
“I don’t think so. Majority of Filipinos have I think been used to this president…they know that he doesn’t mean that,” Panelo said.
He added that Duterte’s recent statement is something that requires the Church’s reply, like how the President responds to criticism about his drug war and the supposed extrajudicial killings.
“When the say there are so many extrajudicial killings, the President says, ‘Excuse me, it’s not state-initiated. There are killings because they resist arrest. In the process, there are killings,'” Panelo said.
“He made a statement. I await the response of the Church,” he added.
Panelo also said that the President has basis when the latter claimed that 90 percent of priests are homosexuals.
“He tells us that there have been complaints against priests who are gays. In fact he points to a certain Internet information that we can look it up, who these priests have been charged with molestations,” he said.
Meanwhile, Panelo said Duterte is not expecting the members of the Catholic Church who are vocal against him to apologize for the President to stop criticizing the Church. He however, said that Duterte will unlikely stop from expressing his sentiments.
“It’s not a matter of convincing. Perhaps it’s in his psyche. It is in his mind, there are certain things he doesn’t approve of, and he expresses his thoughts to us. Perhaps in a manner that some of us don’t want but that is his style,” he said.
“As correctly pointed out by Senator [Panfilo] Lacson, when we voted him into office, his style was factored in. So we have to live with that,” he added.
This was not the first time that Duterte went against the Catholic Church. Early this year, Duterte was in the center of criticism anew when he said that God is stupid. Despite this, Duterte said he is not an atheist and reaffirmed his faith on God.
Early this year, Duterte created a four-man panel to hold dialogues with the Catholic Church following his remarks against the religious institution. The panel was composed of former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, Pastor Boy Saycon, and former Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco.
However, Panelo on Thursday said that he has no idea what happened to the said panel and if there was any progress made in the dialogues.