By GENALYN D. KABILING
President Duterte is apparently not inclined to apologize for his disparaging remarks about Catholic doctrines despite calls made by some Church leaders.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has dismissed calls for the President to issue an apology, saying Duterte has a right to express his views about religion and would respect the opinions of others.
“I don’t think anyone can demand anything from anyone – not because he is President. Pero ang sabi nga niya, ‘Sumagot kayo kung gusto ninyong sumagot, ganiyan po ang anyo ng malayang pananalita,’” Roque said in a radio interview when asked about a public apology from the President.
“Kaniya-kaniyang paninindigan iyan, at tanggapin natin na hindi natin maaalis – ang pananampalataya ay hindi pupuwedeng kuwestiyunin kahit na sino,” he added.
Reacting to the Church outrage against Duterte, Roque said the President respects the views of other Filipinos, including the insults hurled against him. “Paulit-ulit sinasabi ng Presidente iyan, ‘Murahin ninyo ako nang murahin, basta kayo ay Pilipino tatanggapin ko iyan, dahil ako ay pinapasuweldo ng sambayanang Pilipino,” Roque said.
“Lahat na ng puwedeng ibato, binato na nila at tinatanggap niya iyan in stride. At tinatanggap niya iyan na bilang paninindigan niya na importante iyong kalayaan ng malayang pananalita,” he added.
Roque urged the Church not be too onion-skinned since it has also been criticizing Duterte since he assumed office in 2016. “’Wag namang balat-sibuyas. At hindi naman pupuwede Simbahang Katolika lang ang magbabato ng kritisismo sa ating Presidente; at kapag ang Presidente nagbato ng kritisismo, eh parang hindi matanggap,” he added.
Duterte has triggered a backlash from various Church groups after calling God “stupid.” Duterte has questioned why God created Adam and Even only to allow them to give in to temptation and banish them from paradise.
Duterte later clarified that his “stupid God” remark was directed at his critics in the Catholic Church, saying his God was perfect and has common sense unlike theirs.
Several Church leaders have condemned the President’s blasphemous attacks against God and called for prayers for his healing. Bro. Eddie Villanueva, founder of the Jesus is Lord Movement, has reportedly called on the President to issue a public apology for mocking God.