Philippine president says he ‘will not anymore speak about the Church in the meantime’
Manila: In a bid to end the controversy involving his personal beliefs, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he has apologised to God directly for his actions while pointing out that he is not seeking forgiveness from any religious leader.
Duterte apologised for his actions during a meeting with Brother Eduardo Villanueva, Founder of the non-Catholic group, Jesus Is Lord Church Worldwide (JILCW) in Malacañang Park late on Tuesday.
The apology by the president can be seen in a video posted on the official Facebook page of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
“Sorry, God. I said sorry, God. If God is taken in a generic term by everybody listening then that’s well and good,” the president said.
Villanueva, for his part said he is confident that the apology would put a stop to a controversy that has practically gripped the country and eroded confidence for the national leader in a predominantly Christian nation of more than 100 million.
“I am glad that the President has apologised to the Living GOD. Only the LORD our GOD can judge our sincerity. Moving forward, I hope the President can lead us towards greater unity & respect for one’s faith and religion and to focus all energy on policies that can uplift the nation!,” Villanueva said.
Earlier on Monday, Duterte met with Archbishop Romulo Valles, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
The meeting, held at the palace, was part of a dialogue the president himself has called in a bid to mend ties with the Catholic Church.
According to presidential spokesman Harry Secretary Roque, the president said after talking with Archbishop Valles that he “will not anymore speak about the Church in the meantime”.
Duterte had, on several occasions derided the belief in God.
The President had been under severe criticism for issuing statements on a subject that no other leader in the country had dared touch — religion.
On Tuesday, the President, during the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Summit in Manila, said he is “not attacking the Church.”
“What I said that if you use religion as a forum to criticise leaders, I was not referring to any religion,” he said.
Religious leaders in the country, particularly exercise so much influence in politics that they have the capacity to play a strong role in toppling presidents.
During the mid-1980s, support from then Manila prelate Cardinal Jaime Sin played a role in ousting then President Ferdinand Marcos through so-called “People Power.”
A similar situation was repeated when President Joseph Estrada was toppled in an uprising in 2001.
Duterte had said that his controversial statements was aimed at peeving the Church and testing the limits of its tolerance.
“I was only shaking the tree,” he had said.