Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s explanations for President Rodrigo Duterte’s statements get more and more unbelievable every day.
During a Palace briefing earlier today, he said he believes Duterte’s recent remark about killing bishops who are critical of the administration wasn’t actually as morbid as people think.
According to The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Panelo believes that Duterte meant to “kill them with kindness.”
He also described the statement as an exaggerated remark meant to add dramatic effect.
“I think that’s only a hyperbole on the part of the President. We should be getting used to it. He makes certain statements for [a] dramatic effect but he actually means stop criticizing and do some good for the country,” Panelo was quoted saying by CNN Philippines.
Is he forgetting that the statement could fuel violence against Church officials, considering how influential Duterte is?
Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang yesterday that Catholic bishops who criticize his administration “serve no purpose” and should be killed.
“Your bishops, kill them. These b******s serve no purpose. All they do is criticize,” Duterte was quoted saying by The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
In another event yesterday, Duterte said that majority of priests are gay, CNN Philippines reported.
“Most of the priests there are homosexuals. Almost 90 percent of you. So, do not postulate on my morality,” Duterte said during the awarding of the country’s top overseas Filipino workers (OFW).
Panelo also said today that the president was just like any ordinary human being who gets upset when the “good things that he does for this country are not even appreciated by the people who are supposed to support it, like the Church.”
Critics of the president claim that his rants against the hypocrisy of the clergy could have led to the killings of priests. Three members of the clergy were killed by assailants in a span of six months.
Catholic Church leaders have also asked Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to tone down his attacks on the clergy, but it seems he has no plans to do that.
Last week, he accused Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Caloocan of being a drug addict. The bishop is a staunch critic of the Duterte administration. He is also known for criticizing the Philippine National Police (PNP) for their inability to stop vigilante groups from killing residents of Caloocan, reported Rappler.
David rejected the president’s claim in a Facebook post and said he was only addicted to fruit shakes blended with moringa (malunggay), a horseradish-like plant.
Duterte has recently been ranting about members of the Catholic Church, many of whom are openly opposed to his policies and his deadly drug war which has claimed the lives of over 12,000 Filipinos, according to the Human Rights Watch.
Recently, he accused priests of having wives and children.
Duterte also said that Filipinos should just build their own chapels at home and skip going to church where they “pay for idiots (priests).”
Earlier this year, he caused a ruckus when he called God “stupid.”
So much for kindness.