Duterte, religious group discuss drugs, Taal Volcano eruption

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday discussed with religious group Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints several pressing issues, including drug proliferation and the impact of Taal Volcano's eruption.

The dialogue came after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints paid a courtesy call on Duterte at the Malago Clubhouse in MalacaAan, the Palace said in a press statement Wednesday.

Members of the religious group who visited Duterte were Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Elder Quentin Cook, Philippines Area president Elder Evan Schmutz, Area Seventy Elder Aretemio Maligon, Patriarch of Novaliches Stake (Diocese) Edwin Bellen, Senior Manager for Media Relations Doug Andersen, and Philippines Area communication director Haidi Fajardo.

During the call at the Malago Clubhouse, the religious group expressed its concern on the effects of the Taal Volcano to the eruption to the local residents in Batangas and nearby provinces, MalacaAang said.

The group also discussed with Duterte the illegal drug trade problem, as well as the peace and order situation in the Philippines.

On Tuesday, Duterte said he was "very happy" with the government's response to Taal's eruption, which once again became active on Sunday when it started spewing thick ash and steam that affected thousands of people living within the 14-kilometer danger zone.

Duterte also approved the proposal to declare restive Taal Volcano Island as "No Man's Land" or an uninhabited area amid the hazardous activity of the volcano.

Taal's current activity developed into magmatic eruption from the previous phreatic eruption.

Magmatic eruption involves the rise of magma towards the surface which normally generates detectable earthquake, while phreatic eruption is a stream-driven episode when water beneath the ground or on the surface is heated by magma, lava, hot water, rocks, or new volcanic deposits.

Also on Tuesday, Duterte admitted that he is struggling in improving the country's economy due to the continued presence of illegal drugs and communism in the country.

The President said the only way to have a robust economy is to neutralize all big-time drug offenders and the communist insurgents.

The religious group also gave Duterte a Bible and a personalized image of Jesus Christ, MalacaAang said.

The President expressed his gratitude to the church members for visiting him and for giving him a Bible and a personalized image of Jesus Christ. He also told them about his experiences on Bible reading before becoming president, it said.

In an interview with GMA News in December 2019, Duterte said he is praying every night, not for himself, but for the country.

Also present during the courtesy call were Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista, Philippine Drug Enforcement Director General Aaron Aquino, Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje, and Senator Christopher Lawrence Go.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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