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Panel formed to dialogue with Church groups

By GENALYN KABILING

President Duterte has created a three-man committee to hold dialogue with leaders of the Catholic Church and other groups in the wake of his controversial attacks about the Catholic faith.

The President has designated Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, and EDSA People Power Commission member Pastor Saycon to lead the dialogue with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and other religious groups.

According to Roque, the President agreed with the proposed dialogue with the Church leaders to iron out any conflict and try to improve their relations.

“Siguro ang tema ng mga pag-uusap paano mabawasan ang hidwaan sa pagitan ng gobyerno at simbahan. Alam ko po may separation of church and state, hindi kinakailangan makipagdayalogo, pero minabuti ng Presidente na sige buksan ang proseso ng diyalogo,” Roque said during a press conference in Davao City.

Asked if the government’s dialogue was connected with the President’s recent attacks on the Catholic Church, Roque said he would be lying if he claimed there was no relation.

“Meron siguro relasyon din ‘yan. At ninanais ng presidente na dahil parehong kabahagi ng lipunang Pilipino ang simbahan at gobyerno, siguro walang mawawala kung mas mabuti ang samahan sa panig ng simbahan at gobyerno,” he said.

Roque said Saycon has been directed to reach out to the CBCP leadership to relay the government’s willingness to hold a dialogue. The President’s spokesman, on the other hand, will communicate with the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.

The government is optimistic that the planned dialogue with the Church would prosper in resolving the concerns from both sides.

Roque said they look forward to the “fruitful dialogue” with the Catholic Church given the friendly ties between the President and CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles. Both hail from Davao City.

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