Duterte’s remarks about God just ‘personal belief,’ Palace defends

MANILA MalacaAang officials on Monday defended President Rodrigo R. Duterte's remarks about God, stressing that it was his personal belief which he, and anyone else, had the right to express.

While mentioning the Bible's creation story in his speech at the National Information and Communications (ICT) Summit in Davao City on Friday, Duterte stated: "Adam ate it then malice was born. Who is this stupid God?"

Duterte said that it did not make sense how God created something perfect and then think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work.

In his speech, however, the President asserted his belief in a universal mind.

Iyan po ay personal na paninindigan ng Pangulo. Alam ninyo iyong ating kalayaan ng malayang pananampalataya, kasama po iyan yun sa wala kang paniniwalaan na pananampalataya (This is the personal belief of the President. You know, the freedom of religion includes the freedom not to believe in religion), Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a radio interview.

Roque said that he believed that Duterte practiced his own form of spirituality but there was no need to interpret it.

He further said that Duterte's remarks were deeply rooted from his unpleasant experience being allegedly molested by a priest when he was studying at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU).

Tingin ko ang mga deklarasyon ni Pangulo ay nagmumula doon sa hindi magandang karanasan niya noong siya ay isang bata na diumano siya ay naabuso ng isang pari (I think the declarations of the President come from his unpleasant experience when he was younger and when he was allegedly abused by a priest), Roque said.

According to Roque, the Catholic Church should face and acknowledge the cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other members of the church as well as apologize to the victims.

Ito po ay talagang hindi pupuwedeng kalimutan ng Simbahan; kinakailangan aminin, humingi ng tawad (This is an issue that should not be forgotten by the Church; they should admit, apologize), Roque, a human rights lawyer, said.

So that lahat iyong mga naging biktima gaya naman ni Presidente (all victims including President) Duterte can also move on with their lives, he added.

Questioning theories

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, for his part, said that Duterte was not insulting or calling God stupid but merely questioning the theory of creation.

I don't think he called God stupid. I saw the transcript, it says 'Who is this stupid God?' He was actually questioning the theory of creation as narrated by the writers of the Bible. As we all know, there are many theories on the creation of the human species like (Charles) Darwin, Panelo told reporters in an interview at the MalacaAang press room.

Panelo compared Duterte to academicians and scientists who also questioned the story of creation.

Para siyang (He's like an) academician, he's questioning particular theory whether this is logical or not. He is just questioning the moral conduct of certain members of the Church, Panelo said.

Moreover, he said that he saw Duterte's statements against Catholicism as no different from other religions who also questioned other faiths.

So what's the difference with that? You mean to tell me other religions, leaders can't criticize other religions except you will deprive this President? Hindi naman siguro tama 'yun (That doesn't seem right), Panelo said.

Panelo emphasized that Duterte himself said that he believes in God and that he was only criticizing immoral priests and other members of the Catholic Church.

He (Duterte) keeps repeating he believes in God. When he criticizes the Catholic Church, he was only referring to the critical and immoral priests not the institution itself, Panelo said.

When you question for instance, the theory of certain religions, you do not disrespect. So as an individual, you have the right to your own theory of creation, he added.

Non-traditional

Panelo further said that Duterte may not follow traditional teachings of the Catholic Church but in his own way, offered his life for the sake of others.

He may not believe or follow traditional rituals of the Catholic rites but remember what Jesus Christ said? The greatest love that one can give to a fellow human being is the sacrifice of one's life and the President has many times offered and put his life in danger to free persons in danger like those hostages, Panelo said.

Panelo said that for Duterte, the best demonstration of spirituality was not hearing mass every day or reciting the Lord's Prayer but actually doing good.

Like Roque, Panelo also said that Duterte was merely expressing his opinion because it was a concern personal to him and that the 1987 Constitution itself gave Filipinos the right to express themselves provided laws are not violated.

Panelo noted that regardless of what event Duterte was invited to attend, the President will always make statements in relation to a situation.

Usually ganyan yung (that's his) style niya, kino-connect niya ng isang sitwasyon sa mga bagay-bagay na (he connects a situation to what he feels) relevant. But let me tell you that this President believes in one sovereign God, not in the false gods that many of us express to be believe in and yet not following. 'Yan ang pinaka punto ng Presidente (That's the main point of the President), Panelo said. (With reports from Nicole De Leon,OJT/PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency