By Mario Casayuran
Could Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III mediate the war between President Duterte and leaders of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)?
Sotto said he is thinking of patching things up between the two sides as he has friends in the CBCP and that he has a line to President Duterte.
Told during a radio interview that the verbal attacks by the President against ranking CBCP members are too strong, Sotto replied: ‘’Subukan natin baka pwedeng magkaroon ng peacetalks (I will try whether I could arrange peace talks.)
The latest Duterte attack was made in Masbate where he reportedly told the jobless to rob (or even kill) the Bishops when they are in their area because they are filthy rich.
What riled the President were reports that priests tell their parishioners that he is possessed by demons and expressed hopes that he dies. The priests had stated that they would even say Holy Mass when he dies.
Duterte had stressed that all his attention is on his work as President of the Republic and does not care a damn what the priests or bishops say about him.
Sotto admitted having heard a portion of a Church homily criticizing Duterte and that the President is only hitting back.
‘’Syempre may karapatan din naman ang mga tao sa kanilang opinyon, may karapatan din ang mga obispo, madalas naman di naman sila nagbabanggit ng pangalan kahit sa eleksyon. ang binabanggit nila qualities, qualification o disqualification,’’ he said during a radio interview. (People have their own opinions, so too do the Bishops. Bishops rarely go into personalities and do not talk of personalities during elections except the candidates’ qualities, qualification and disqualification.)
‘’In this case, i really don’t know di ko kasi naririnig sinasabi ng presidente., kung talagang siya binabanggit , may karapatan magalit ang president,’’ he said. (I really didn’t hear what the President had said, if he was really mentioned, the President also has the right to hit back.)
Sotto expressed the view that some persons just want the President to get angry, citing alleged sarcastic remarks from bishops.
‘’Maganda siguro, subukan natin mag-mediate, marami ako kaibigan sa CBCP, every now and then naman nakakausap ko si presidente. subukan natin tanungin ko,’’ he added. (It may be a good idea to mediate. I will try, I have many friends at the CBCP. Every now and then, I get to talk to the President.)