Palma: Duterte’s ‘kill the bish­ops’ state­ment a ‘bad joke’

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Delta Dyrecka Leti­gio COR­RE­SPON­DENT

CEBU Arch­bishop Jose Palma on Satur­day dis­missed as a “bad joke” the state­ment of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte that seem­ingly en­cour­aged the killing of Catholic bish­ops whom he de­scribed as “stupid” and “use­less.”

“Magtawa-tawa lang gyud mi kay para namo ang mga tawo nga nor­mal, dili gyud mok­a­gat sa gi­in­gon ni Duterte. (We just laughed about it be­cause for us, bish­ops, nor­mal peo­ple would never be­lieve what Duterte said),” said Palma in an in­ter­view af­ter of­fer­ing a Mass for the Feast of the Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion at the Cebu Met­ro­pol­i­tan Cathe­dral.

Pres­i­dent Duterte on Wed­nes­day, De­cem­ber 5, in­ten­si­fied his ver­bal at­tacks against Catholic bish­ops, as if urg­ing for their killing.

“[ I]tong mga obispo ninyo, patayin ninyo. Walang silbi iyang mga gagong iyan. (These bish­ops, kill them. They are use­less and stupid.) All they do is crit­i­cize,” Duterte said in his speech dur­ing the award­ing cer­e­monies for the 2017 Pres­i­den­tial Award for Child-Friendly Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and Cities (PACFMC) Malacañang.

The prelate said a per­son in his right mind would not have be en­cour­ag­ing the killing of a group of peo­ple.

“Kinsa man nga tawo in his right mind nga mo in­gon nga ipa­p­atay niya ang usa ka grupo sa mga obispo? Ako, I just treat it as a bad joke,” said Palma.

(Who in their right mind would say he would want a group of bish­ops killed? Me, I just treat it as a bad joke.)

Palma added that he does not fear for his safety and the safety of the bish­ops in the Philip­pines amidst the threats from Pres­i­dent Duterte.

“Wala ko na­had­lok. We have noth­ing to be afraid of. What have we done to de­serve be­ing killed?” said Palma.

‘Gravely alarm­ing’

But the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) is treat­ing the Pres­i­dent’s words with cau­tion.

On Thurs­day (De­cem­ber 6), the CHR re­leased a state­ment say­ing that it was gravely alarmed by Duterte’s re­marks against Catholic bish­ops, as it noted the con­tin­ued and ris­ing at­tacks on gov­ern­ment’s crit­ics.

“State­ments that could em­bolden the vi­o­lence against priests and other re­li­gious per­sons are gravely alarm­ing in the face of con­tin­u­ing at­tacks against those deemed as crit­ics of the gov­ern­ment,” CHR spokeswom-

an Jacque­line de Guia said in a state­ment.

The rights body then high­lighted the ef­forts of some Catholic bish­ops such as Caloocan Bishop Pablo Vir­gilio David, who has been called out by Duterte in his speeches, in help­ing the com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies suf­fer­ing hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions stem­ming from the gov­ern­ment’s drug cam­paign.

Ac­cord­ing to De Guia, the Catholic Church plays an im­por­tant role in the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of these grief-stricken fam­i­lies.

‘Hyper­bole’

Malacañang on Thurs­day sought to stave off con­tro­versy.

Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son Sal­vador Panelo said Pres­i­dent Duterte’s state­ment about killing bish­ops was just a “hyper­bole” in­tended for “dra­matic ef­fect.”

“We should be get­ting used to this Pres­i­dent,” Panelo said. “He ac­tu­ally means stop crit­i­ciz­ing and do some good for this coun­try. Help us,” he added.

This is not the first time Pres­i­dent Duterte crit­i­cized the Church.

He re­it­er­ated in his ear­lier crit­i­cism that the Catholic Church is “the most hyp­o­crit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tion.”

CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MEN­DOZA

The im­age of the Blessed Vir­gin Mary takes cen­ter stage as hun­dreds of Mar­ian devo­tees at­tend the Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of the Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion of­fi­ci­ated by Cebu Arch­bishop Jose Palma at the Cebu Met­ro­pol­i­tan Cathe­dral on Dec. 8, 2018.

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