PRRD open to Sotto-mediated dialogue with Church leaders

MANILA Despite his 'self-defense' tirades against the Catholic Church leaders, President Rodrigo R. Duterte is willing to sit down with them in another dialogue, MalacaAang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this reaction after Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed openness to mediate a dialogue between the President and Church leaders.

Si Presidente, anything that is beneficial to the nation, palagi niyang gusto. Okay sa kaniya lahat iyon. Napakadaling kausap si Presidente(The President, anything that is beneficial to the nation, he is always in favor for. It's okay with him. The President is easy to talk to), Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Sotto said that he has already contacted the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) about a possible meeting with the President.

In June 2018, the President formed a three-man team to initiate dialogue with the Catholic Church to discuss several issues between the religious sector and the government.

The three-man team was composed of former Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Commissioner Pastor Boy Saycon of the Edsa People Power Commission and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella.

Duterte's decision came after Church officials did not take lightly his remarks about God where he questioned the Book of Genesis stressing that it did not make sense how God created something perfect and then think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work.

Panelo admitted that since last year, efforts to continue the dialogue between government and Church have diminished.

Siguro nga kasi, 'di ba ganiyan naman ang mga Pilipino � kapag may problema, let's meet and talk. And then after a while, wala na, nakalimutan na naman tapos hanggang pumutok uli (Maybe because that's how Filipinos are if there's a problem let's meet and talk, then after a while, they forget about it until it happens again), Panelo said.

Panelo, however, insisted anew that the President respects the Christian faith and was only making remarks against the Church as self-defense, especially when clergymen used the pulpit to attack him.

He (the President) is only defending himself from attacks. It's self-defense, Panelo said.

If you can unleash tirades against the President, then be ready to receive some in return, he added.

The Catholic Church has repeatedly criticized the President for his tirades against the clergymen and various policies, including his war on drugs. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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