Palace open to dialogue with CBCP

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MANILA — Despite his tirades against the Catholic Church, President Rodrigo R. Duterte is open to hold a dialogue with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), his spokesman said on Thursday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made this remark a day after Duterte hit Catholic priests anew, claiming that some of them had affairs with women, which prompted bishops to call him out for his attacks.

“Kung dayalogo ay talaga naman pong bukas ang Presidente, bukas ang Palasyo lalung-lalo na po ngayon na ang Secretary-General ngCBCP ay taga-Davao din (When it comes to holding a dialogue, our President is open to it, the Palace is open especially because the current Secretary-General of CBCP is also from Davao),” Roque said.

“In fact tingnan po natin talaga on how to institutionalize this dialogue (In fact, we are looking at how to institutionalize this dialogue),” he added.

Roque added that Duterte is in good terms with CBCP president and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles.

“Wala naman pong sama ng loob ang ating Presidente sa tumatayong Secretary-General ngayon ng CBCP (Duterte has no ill will towards the Secretary General of the CBCP),” he added.

According to Roque, it was “normal” for a person, including the President, to sometimes disagree with teachings of the Catholic Church.

“Mayroon po siyang sariling mga paninindigan na taliwas sa paninindigan ng Simbahang Katoliko, pero iyan po naman ay karapatan ng lahat, magkaroon ng pananampalataya o huwag magkaroon ng kahit anong pananampalataya (He has his own beliefs that are against the Catholic Church but that’s everyone’s right, to have exercised religion or not exercise religion),” Roque said.

However, he assured that the government will prioritize investigation on the killing of priests and will hold the perpetrators liable.

“Sa tingin ko po, personal na paninindigan ni Presidente iyan. Pero ang aming assurance po, ang gobyerno po ay gagawin ang kanyang katungkulan, para po pigilan, itigil itong kultura ng impunity (I think it is the personal stance of the President.

But our assurance is that the government will do its job to stop this culture of impunity),” Roque said.

Roque reiterated that Duterte’s criticisms against the Catholic Church did not mean that he allowed the killings of Catholic priests.

“At pagdating nga dito sa pagpatay ng pari – hinding-hindi naman po sasabihin ng Presidente na patayin ninyo ang mga kaparian (In terms of killing priests–the President will never tell anyone to kill priests),” he added.

On Wednesday, Roque said efforts of the Duterte administration to investigate the series of killings that have targeted priests, media practitioners, and prosecutors, are not merely “lip service.”

He made this remark after the killing of Nueva Ecija priest, Fr. Richmond Nilo last Sunday.

Nilo is the third Catholic priest killed in the country in the past seven months.

Roque said President Duterte himself has expressed concern on the rise in the number of killings.

“Nababahala talaga si Presidente dito sa pagtaas ng kriminalidad ‘no (The President is really concerned about the rise in criminality in the country),” Roque said.

He also emphasized that unlike the administration of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the current administration is acting on these killings. -PNA

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