Tit for tat by Duterte against clergy defended

January 12, 2019
Rodrigo R. Duterte
Rodrigo R. Duterte

PRESIDENTIAL spokesman Salvador Panelo has sought to douse the fire ignited by President Rodrigo Duterte’s renewed tirades against the bishops.

In a statement released late Friday, Panelo said the President “was only airing his sentiments against some Church leaders who are living in luxury, contrary to their teachings.”

He said some church leaders have also been critical of the President.

“If the men of the cloth can unleash tirades against the President then they should be able to receive some lashes from him to return the favor,” Panelo said.

He added that Duterte’s “use of figures of speech, as we have repeatedly emphasized, is his style in articulating and dramatizing a point,” he said.

“In the case instant, he wishes to stress the failure of some bishops to empathize with the masses as they live comfortably in their rectories while the latter endures the vestiges of poverty,” Panelo added.

In a speech Thursday at the birthday celebration of Masbate Governor Antonio Kho, Duterte said: “Kaya pagdating ko sabi ko, ‘Hoy, kayong mga tambay diyan, ‘pag dumaan ‘yang obispo ninyo holdapan ‘yan maraming pera ‘yan p***** i** niya.  Patayin mo.”

Panelo defended the President, saying detractors should not turn a blind eye to the context of the chief executive’s speeches to understand what he means, adding that critics should “momentarily suspend their incorrigible biases.”

The Palace spokesman insisted Duterte “respects the Christian faith,” as manifested by his signing Republic Act 11163 or the National Bible Day Act and by commemorating Traslacion or the procession of the Black Nazarene image.

“The President’s actions show that he recognizes the fundamental role of religion in the lives of the Filipino people, all with its rich cultural, social and ethnic diversity,” Panelo said.

“Given his view on the importance of religion and even including himself as a believer in the Divine and the Black Nazarene, it becomes the duty of the President to subject some of its leaders on their hypocritical practices, especially so when some of them commenced the adverse narratives against him using the pulpit and even wishing the President’s demise,” the Palace spokesman said.