Duterte to Church: You can’t use God to criticize me

MANILA -- There is a separation of Church and state, President Rodrigo R. Duterte reminded the Catholic Church on Saturday hitting its leaders anew for criticizing him on his various policies including his war on drugs.

When you are a religious, you have to be something of a neutral dito sa (here) faith mo pati (and) government because it is really the concept of a republican system that there is a separation of Church and state, Duterte said during the inauguration of the Malayan Colleges Mindanao in Davao City.

Duterte said it is not right for Church leaders to use the platform of God to criticize him and urged them to refrain from using God's name in vain.

So when you criticize me, do not use the platform of God. That God will send you to hell that God will never forgive you, hell is waiting for you. Do not do it. Do not take God -- God's name in vain, Duterte said.

It's fundamental. It's almost basic. There is really a clear cut between religion and governance. You cannot use God to criticize me, he added.

Duterte said every Filipino is entitled to criticize him as a matter of right because they were paying his salary through taxes. However, he said foreigners and priests do not have that same right.

You know, every Filipino is entitled to criticize me as a matter of right, Duterte said.

And if I fall short of their expectations and they begin to be disappointed, discontent, or whatever, they have every right for I may have failed them in my promises. Kaya okay sa akin 'yan (That's why it's okay with me). But certainly not a foreigner, however holy you are, I will not allow you to do it in my country for after all, we are not supposed to do it in other countries, too, he added.

Pero huwag 'yung ibang tao na basta na lang, (But not other people) and the priests, and the Church, and everybody connected with a set of religion or whatever, he added.

Duterte also questioned how the church sought collections.

If you pity the poor, eh kung gusto mong tumulong, bakit ka sige kolekta diyan (If you want to help, then why do you collect there)? Duterte said, noting that collections were sometimes asked thrice.

Tatlong beses pa umiikot? 'Yung unang bag malaki tapos next collection paliit. Ang next collection, wala na, maliit na masyado kay wala naman magbigay. Pangatlong round na (And it's passed around thrice? The first is a big bag, the next is a smaller one. The next one is too small you can't give anything anymore. It's the third round.), Duterte said.

The President reiterated that he has a deep and abiding faith in God but noted that his God was a universal mind.

The lessons I learned in life, the hard ways and 'yung (the) -- your capacity to seek someone who has -- somewhere a universal mind, Duterte said.

He also challenged anyone to prove God's existence by showing him a selfie and he would willingly step down from his post.

But if there is somebody of the so many billions, maybe if he can go there in heaven, talk to God, and magpa-selfie sila, at bumalik siya dito, at sabihin ng pari (get a selfie, return here, and the priest will say) 'There is God," I will step down tomorrow. No question), he said.

Amid Duterte's negative remarks about the Church, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President was entitled to his personal belief.

He said Duterte's remarks were deeply rooted from his unpleasant experience being allegedly molested by a priest when he was studying at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU).

Duterte earlier formed a four-man panel to dialogue with the Catholic Church and other religious leaders to push for healing amid their public spat.

The President is set to meet with Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles in MalacaAang on Monday. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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