MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte refused to heed calls of Catholic Church leaders to tone down his tirades against priests after the widely-condemned deaths of 3 of them.
On Wednesday, June 13, Duterte again slammed priests for putting government in a bad light when, he claims, they are no better than him.
"Ang problema ng mga buwang na ito, santo lahat. Gobyerno, military, police, puro demonyo na," said Duterte in front of a room full of policemen and security personnel.
(The problem with these fools is they think they are all saints, but the government, military, police are all demons.)
"'Stop persecuting priests.' Wala naman akong sinabi (I didn't say anything)," said Duterte.
In his Wednesday speech, the President again claimed priests have illicit affairs with women. He threatened to publicize information about this if Church leaders continue "blabbering."
"Eh pareho kami ng isyu ng paring iyon, babae. Pinigilan ko kasi hindi maganda, pero kung magsige sila magdaldal, bitawan ko," said Duterte.
(I have the same issue with that priest, women. I suppressed it because it's not nice, but if they continue blabbering, I'll release it.)
"Kung si Soc, gusto nila, eh di ilabas ko (If Soc wants it, I'll release it)," said Duterte, referring to Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who had asked Duterte to stop his tirades against priests in a strongly-worded statement.
Duterte was likely referring to his matrix of the alleged affairs of Father Mark Ventura, the Cagayan priest who was among the 3 who were recently murdered. He said he had already given a copy to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, however, has said that whether or not Ventura had affairs with women does not justify his murder. Ventura's bishop, Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg, also said Duterte's claims were "unfounded" and "malicious."
Villegas had called on Duterte to "stop the verbal persecution of the Catholic Church," saying these tirades embolden more acts of violence against priests.
Malacañang said late Wednesday afternoon that Duterte "never incited" the killings of the priests. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave assurances that the police would investigate the deaths. – Rappler.com