DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 July) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte has vowed to Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles that he would not talk against the church during their 30-minute one-on-one meeting Monday, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
“Sinabi nga po ng Pangulo na matapos niyang makausap si Archbishop Valles ay hindi na po siya magsasalita tungkol sa Simbahan sa panandalian ‘no (The President said after his talk with Archbishop Valles that he will not talk against the Church for now),” Roque told a press briefing on Tuesday.
The President’s meeting with Valles, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) since December last year, took place in between his 10-hour meeting with his cabinet, from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., while a government panel will meet with a panel from the CBCP to continue the dialogue, Roque said.
The presidential spokesperson said Duterte told Valles, who is known to be close to the family of the President, that he would accept any criticisms hurled against him by the people but he asked the church leaders to stop using the pulpit to criticize his administration, given the “separation of church and state.”
The church leaders are among the most vocal critics of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
Roque said the President did most of the talking and Valles did most of the listening during the meeting, which came after Duterte was criticized for calling God “stupid.”
He said the archbishop acknowledged that the most important aspect of a dialogue was listening.
Valles delivered then Presidential candidate’s letter of apology to Pope Francis in 2016 after he took a swipe at the Holy See in one of his speeches for his experience during a traffic gridlock in Manila during the papal visit in the country.
In 2015, the former mayor of Davao said he was “admonished and lectured on Christian Values” by Archbishop Valles during a one-on-one meeting at the Bishop’s Palace and swore he’ll try not to swear anymore.
“Hindi na ako magmumura dito (I won’t use swear words here). I’ll try to behave now, medyo holy na ako (I feel a bit holy) after visiting the Bishop,” he said at that time during his Sunday program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa.”
“I was admonished and lectured on Christian Values and in return, I told them that I would lessen my use of cuss words. I am even regulating myself and will donate P1,000 to Caritas Davao every time I would swear,” he added.
Valles told a press briefing on July 9 that many Dabawenyos have been hurt by the remark of the President against the church.
“I would say from my take in the area of Davao that a good number of people are pained by this,” he said.
In his letter to the Dabawenyos dated June 28, the prelate told his flock to “strive to maintain a peaceful and charitable spirit in our hearts in the midst of these events.”
“Kini mao ang atong pangayoon sa Dios diha sa atong pag-ampo niining mga adlawa. Kon ania kini sa atong kasingkasing, makabaton usab sa gugma ug pagtahod alang sa uban (This we should ask God in our prayers these days. If we have this in our hearts, we can attain love and respect for others),” the archbishop said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)