By Jose Torres Jr.
Less than 24 hours after he declared a moratorium on attacks against the Catholic Church, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was at it again with another tirade against religious leaders.
In a speech before businessmen on July 10, the president lambasted critics who “come here under the cloak of whatever religion and start to blabber their mouths and attack us.”
Duterte was apparently referring to Australian missionary nun Patricia Fox, who raised the ire of the president for joining an investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Mindanao.
The president said the “separation of powers between any church and state” does not allow church people to criticize his administration.
“Do not include your god in your platform of your criticism in your attacks because when I attack, if you include God in the issue, son of a bitch, I’ll get back at that god,” said Duterte.
“I have the right to answer. There is a separation of powers. Why are you f*****g … the name of the Lord against me?” he added.
The president’s latest tirade came a day after he met Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
A statement released by the presidential palace after the meeting said Duterte had “agreed to a moratorium on statements about the church.”
In an interview with the media, the president said “some modality of behavior” was discussed during his meeting with the bishop, although he said it “would not prevent me from just saying the truth.”
He said he was also not attacking the church in his speech before businessmen in Pampanga province earlier in the day.
During his speech, Duterte continued to attack God, whom the president said “never created hell because if he created hell, he must be a stupid god.”
“My god is not stupid to create man just to burn him in hell. I do not believe in that,” he said, adding that he also does not believe in heaven “because if I do, only a fraction of you will ever enter heaven.”
The president said his god is the “six million Filipinos plus the others who voted for me above the margin, and those who really voted for me.”
During the 2016 election, Duterte garnered 16.6 million votes.
In a meeting later in the evening with Evangelical leader Eddie Villanueva of the Jesus Is Lord Movement, the president made a qualified apology to God.
“If it’s the same god, I’m sorry, that’s how it is. Sorry God. I said sorry God. If God is taken as a generic term by everybody listening, then that’s well and good,” said Duterte.
“I only apologize to God, nobody else. If I wronged God, he would be happy to listen. Why? Because my god is all forgiving … Why? Because God created me to be good and not bad,” he said.
The president said church leaders should “never use the name of God as a front to attack government [because] that is not the proper way to do it.”
Earlier during the meeting, the president again attacked Sister Fox, saying that she was agitating people.
This week, the bishops’ conference issued a strongly worded statement condemning the government’s anti-narcotics war that has killed thousands of suspected drug users and dealers in the past two years.
The bishops’ pastoral statement titled “Rejoice and Be Glad!” also condemned the killings of three Catholic priests in recent months.
The bishops, however, said the statement was not an indictment of Duterte’s administration.
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