Church bells ring as Duterte delivers speech in Iloilo
ILOILO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte was rambling about his campaign promise that he would “kill” those involved in illegal drugs.
He was also discussing the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, how the world became tumultuous after God created a woman, and how they succumbed to temptation.
Suddenly bells rang continuously while he was in the middle of his speech before about 3,000 agrarian beneficiaries at the multipurpose gym of Cabatuan town in Iloilo, about 20 kilometers from Iloilo City.
The ringing of bells from the town’s church, just a few meters from the gym, made the President pause and then ask: “Is that the Angelus or they are just ringing for me?”
He then invited Catholics to pray.
“Baka magalit ang pari (The priest might get angry),” the President said.
The President continued his speech saying he had documents about the “priest who was shot” but later paused for more than a minute as the bells rang.
Before he paused, Mr. Duterte also alluded to another priest who was also killed.
“Magkabit ka ng pulis, magkabit ka ng asawa ng vice mayor, eh magkabit ka ng mga negosyanteng may pera, mamamatay ka talaga. (You would surely die if you had an affair with the wife of a vice mayor or a rich business operator),” he said.
The President did not mention any names but he had earlier presented a matrix with a picture of Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura and several women, alleging that the possible motive in the killing was “love triangle.”
Gunmen shot dead Ventura inside a chapel in Gattaran town in Cagayan after he celebrated Mass on April 29.
Aside from Ventura, gunmen killed two other priests in the past six months or since December 2017.
Motorcycle-riding gunmen shot dead Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez, a retired priest, in Jaen town, Nueva Ecija province on December 4, 2017,
On June 10, gunmen also shot dead Fr. Richmond Nilo at a chapel in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija as he was preparing to hold Mass.
Catholic Church leaders have condemned the killings with several calling on the President “to stop the verbal persecution” against the Church.
They said Mr. Duterte’s statements can “unwittingly embolden more crimes against priests.”
Later, in a speech at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo City, the President said there seems to be a rift going on with his administration and the Catholic Church.
He also said he has results of preliminary findings on the killing of priests that “would not be good for the Catholic Church.”
“If they (church leaders) want to, I will make it public,” he said without elaborating.
He then recalled an alleged incident when he was still state prosecutor about a raid conducted on the house of an Italian priest.
Duterte claimed soldiers found inside the priest’s house a vault photographs with subjects in lewd or suggested poses.
“If that’s what they want, then okay. This is the government’s card,” he said.
Duterte insisted there was no government policy against priests.
“As a matter of fact, I respect the Church. I just want these few bishops who are sort of linking me to the (killing of priests to stop). In truth, I’m not capable of killing priests including women and children,” said the President, who has repeatedly boasted of killing criminals. /kga
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