Palace says ‘unfair’ to tag Duterte in death threats vs priests
MANILA, Philippines — It is “unfair” for President Rodrigo Duterte to be tagged in the death threats received by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas and three other priests, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark as more priests revealed receiving death threats allegedly for their criticism of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
In an earlier Palace briefing, Panelo even said those threats could be from “pranksters”, “anti-Duterte trolls,” and “personal enemies” of the clergymen.
“It is unfair to be pointing to the President as behind it lalo pa’t sinasabi nila last month pa nila nakukuha eh meron nang salita si Presidente, matindi ‘yung salita niya na ‘wag ninyong gagalawin ang mga pari at obispo,” he said.
Villegas and three other priests on Monday claimed they have received death threats and even monitored suspicious men lurking near their houses.
Before this, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, also a vocal critic of Duterte’s war on drugs, likewise said he had received death threats.
Duterte had verbally attacked members of the Catholic Church and on one occasion even called clergymen useless. He also urged bystanders to kill and rob them.
But for Panelo, Duterte’s rhetoric against the church was merely part of his “style” that has been accepted by the people.
“Si Presidente ganun ang istilo niya ever since and yet look at the survey, tinanggap na siya ng tao eh, hindi naniniwala ang tao pagsinabing patayin,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“Talagang ganun ang istilo niya pero hindi naman ganun ang ibig niyang sabihin. Alam na ng tao ‘yun eh, matagal nang alam. Tinatawanan na nga lang eh, ginagamit na lang ng kritiko ‘yun to put him in a bad light,” he added.
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