‘Groups might take Duterte seriously, harm bishops’
Former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales has warned the public against individuals or groups who might take President Rodrigo Duterte’s verbal assault on Catholic prelates seriously.
“Such words from the President may attract stupid people who would do the bidding of the President and decapitate bishops,” Gonzales said at a forum in Manila.
“Malacañang will say it’s just a joke from the President. But what they don’t know is that some followers of Duterte may follow it. So I would caution the Church,” he added.
Speaking at the same forum, Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ public affairs committee, agreed with Gonzales and said they were taking such threats seriously.
“That is threatening, so we are taking it seriously. We know that there are really those crazy ones that would take the words of the President very literally, and harm Church people,” said Secillano.
“What Duterte said was ‘bishops,’ so it means all. It will not be selective. And sometimes, those not making any noise are the ones being targeted,” he said.
Earlier, the President said bishops who did nothing but criticize his administration should be killed.
Malacañang later explained that the President was only joking and he made the remarks for “dramatic effect.”
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the President was “either gravely sick, or his attacks against religion are precisely calculated to hide the machinations his minions are doing in the government.”
Pabillo said the President’s tirades against the Church might prevent people from noticing “the malgovernance that is happening.”
“Both are serious. The attacks on the religious beliefs of the people should be countered, not so much as to fight back against Duterte, but to help educate the people in their faith,” Pabillo said.
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