Duterte says Catholic bish­ops in the Philip­pines should be killed

Bay of Plenty Times - - World - Philip­pines

The Philip­pines is an over­whelm­ingly Catholic coun­try, with about 90 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion iden­ti­fy­ing as Catholics.

But that hasn’t stopped Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte from re­peat­edly tak­ing aim at the Catholic Church. Lo­cal news re­ports have quoted Duterte — who is known for his in­cen­di­ary re­marks — as say­ing: “Th­ese bish­ops that you guys have, kill them. They are use­less fools. All they do is crit­i­cise.”

The Catholic Church has emerged as a vo­cal critic of Duterte’s war on drugs, which has re­sulted in thou­sands of deaths since 2016. And in the past year, three Catholic priests have been killed in the Philip­pines.

Duterte has pre­vi­ously used a crude term to de­scribe Pope Fran­cis, and he an­gered Catholics in the Philip­pines this sum­mer when he called God “stupid” in a tele­vised ad­dress. He also pushed back on the con­cept of “orig­i­nal sin”,say­ing: “What kind of re­li­gion is that? I can’t ac­cept it.”

Ear­lier this year, af­ter a Catholic priest was killed, Catholic lead­ers in the Philip­pines re­leased a state­ment urg­ing Duterte “to stop the ver­bal per­se­cu­tion of the Catholic Church be­cause such at­tacks can wit­tingly em­bolden more crimes against priests”.

Yes­ter­day, his of­fice ex­cused his com­ments about killing bish­ops as “hy­per­bole”.

“We should be get­ting used to this pres­i­dent. He makes cer­tain state­ments for dra­matic ef­fect,” pres­i­den­tial spokesman Sal­vador Panelo later told re­porters, ac­cord­ing to the Philip­pine news site Rap­pler. “The pres­i­dent, just like any or­di­nary hu­man be­ing, is up­set when the good things that he does for this coun­try are not even ap­pre­ci­ated by peo­ple who are sup­posed to sup­port it, like the church.”

But many see the pres­i­dent’s com­ments as reg­u­larly cross­ing the line from jokey to of­fen­sive. In Au­gust, he said that “as long as there are many beau­ti­ful women, there will be more rape cases”.

This week, Duterte also raised eye­brows when he said he smoked mar­i­juana to stay awake dur­ing a re­cent re­gional sum­mit be­cause of a gru­elling sched­ule. That prompted calls from an op­po­si­tion fig­ure that the pres­i­dent should be drug-tested. Duterte later said he was only jok­ing — a sen­si­tive topic in a coun­try where so many have been killed in Duterte’s war on drugs.

“Of course it was a joke, but no­body can stop me from just do­ing my style,” Bloomberg News quoted Duterte as say­ing later. “Some­times you say I’m a misog­y­nist when I joke, but that’s my style. It’s too late to change. If I want to joke, I will joke, and if you be­lieve me, then you’re a fool,” he said.

Ro­drigo Duterte

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