MANILA MalacaAang on Monday expressed high hopes that the meeting between Pesident Rodrigo R. Duterte and Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Romulo Valles would result to 'closer cooperation' between the church and state.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after he confirmed the 'private meeting' between Duterte and Valles on Monday afternoon at MalacaAang Palace.
It is designated as a private meeting. This was arranged by the President and Archbishop Valles directly, Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
Asked about the agenda of the meeting, Roque said only the President and Valles would know what they would discuss with each other.
But on a broader perspective, of course, we would like to see closer cooperation between the state and the church in their desire to serve the people better, Roque said.
After the one-on-one meeting between Duterte and Valles, Roque said a subsequent meeting will be arranged between the CBCP and a four-man Palace panel tasked to dialogue with different churches, including Catholic groups, following Duterte's recent remarks against Catholic priests.
So perhaps in the subsequent meeting, there will be agenda to be formulated and agreed upon by the parties but for now, it will be a one-on-one meeting between the President and Archbishop Valles, he explained.
The presidential panel is composed of Roque, Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella and EDSA People Power Commission commissioner Pastor 'Boy' Saycon.
In the same media briefing, Roque announced that he attended a dinner between former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 18 bishops at the former Chief Executive's residence on Sunday, ahead of the Duterte-Valles meeting.
It was a social dinner although there were prayers said, and there was of course a general consensus that Church and State should work together in upholding the general welfare of the people, Roque said.
Roque said Arroyo gave him a chance to announce the President's stand on same sex marriage, abortion and divorce.
I did announce that on these issues, there appears to be common ground between the CBCP and the President on divorce, on same sex marriage, as well as abortion, Roque said.
He said at least one archbishop brought up the recent negative comments by the President against the Catholic church.
Well, I would lie if I were to say no one actually brought it up. At least one archbishop did but there was no substantial discussion on it because everyone is awaiting the meeting between Archbishop Valles and the President, Roque said.
Roque refused to name any of the 18 bishops in attendance but clarified that Valles was not present in Arroyo's 'traditional' meeting with the bishops. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency