After cursing Pope, Duterte apologizes

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - First Page -

DAVAO CITY MAYOR and presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte and his allies were quick to control the serious damage the veteran politician inflicted upon himself after publicly cursing Pope Francis during a speech last week in Manila.

Duterte, the official candidate of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDPLaban), has told his supporters: “Gusto kong tawagan, Pope, putang ina ka, umuwi ka na” after he was stuck for 5 hours in heavy traffic during the Pontiff’s first state and pastoral visit to Manila in January.

He said he even peed in his car and also blamed the government’s incompetency for the traffic. While his supporters applauded his cursing of the Pope, many Filipinos, mostly Christians, were not happy with Duterte’s foulmouthed statement on the Pope.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines also condemned Duterte’s expletive statement and called it a “great shame.”

Nung Ajihil, a Muslim peace advocate in Zamboanga City, said “I'm no Christian, but it's too much to show disrespect calling the Pope with such vulgarity for one aspiring to be President. Kabastusan naman yan.”

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda also reacted to Duterte’s cursing of the Pope. “Mayor Duterte, you can say all you want about politicians, but you don't curse my Pope Francis,” he said on his Twitter account.

Manny Piñol, Duterte’s political ally, said the tough-taking mayor has apologized for his expletive directed at the Pontiff. “I can never curse my Pope. I was cursing at incompetence. If it was taken by some in that light, I sincerely apologize. I will continue to curse so our suffering nation takes action,” Piñol quoted the politician as saying.

Piñol also defended Duterte and said so much issue has been raised over the statement made by the mayor. “I was there during the proclamation and I heard every word that he said because I was taking notes. While the statement about the traffic and the Pope's visit sounded awkward, it was obvious that the use of the cuss word which is a common street lingo was not directed at Pope Francis.”

“It was merely an expression that comes almost naturally from Duterte's mouth and peppers almost all of his public discourses…he used it in jest to express his exasperation and disappointment over the inability of government to address Metro Manila's traffic problem,” he said.

In a statement posted on Duterte’s Facebook account, it said the politician expressed sadness and regret that the part of his speech mentioning Pope Francis in relation to the monstrous traffic gridlock in January, came across as being disrespectful to Pope Francis. It was farthest from his mind and was never his intention, it said.

“He acknowledges that he should have explained better his point on the matter of that monstrous traffic gridlock. His strong statement on the incompetence of those in government to address the traffic problem in Metro Manila was his expression of anger borne out of the helplessness of the millions of commuters suffering from this daily gridlock.”

“It was never intended to be directed to the person of His Holiness Pope Francis, who has his utmost respect. It was out of exasperation at the inutility of the functionaries in government not only during that historic visit of Pope Francis but at the daily sufferings of all citizens in Metro Manila up to this moment. Mayor Rody also fully understands the reactions of many who, at the very least, are displeased and disappointed at this unfortunate and regrettable incident.”

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