PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte should respect critics of his anti-drug war, including Catholic clergy, Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo said over the weekend.
Robredo was reacting to the President’s remarks last week that Catholic priests did not have moral ascendancy over him given their own scandals.
“We are in extraordinary times and it doesn’t help if we fight each other. Yes, we have varying opinions, but in the scheme of things, we should look for issues where we can work together,” Robredo said in Filipino during a chance interview with reporters during her visit to Calabanga, Camarines Sur to check on a sea wall project.
Over 6,000 people have been killed in connection with the government’s anti-drug war in just six months—a statistic that drew sharp criticism from Catholic bishops during the recent World Apostolic Congress on Mercy held in Manila.
“Going at it with priests doesn’t help because it creates animosity between the government and the Catholic Church. We should respect each other’s beliefs and get all hands on deck, call on all people to help either from the public or private sector, regardless of affiliation,” Robredo said.
Church open to dialogue
Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa said last week the Catholic Church, despite its imperfections, would continue to speak its mind.
“Churchmen are not perfect. Nevertheless, they are supposed to proclaim what is right and proper even if they themselves fall short of what they teach. The fault of some should not be blamed on all,” Arguelles was quoted by the Catholic Bishops’ of the Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news service as saying on Friday.
Arguelles however said the Church was “determined to police its ranks and will continue to express indignation and sanction erring priests.”
“Bishops and priests, who hide serious misdeeds, are harming the Church by their infidelities. If anyone has concrete evidence of misdeed, the authorities better know it and clean the ranks,” Arguelles said.
The Palace last week called for a dialogue with bishops.
At the close of the world congress, Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos said the Church was open to a dialogue but it would remain uncompromising in its “pro-life” stance.
“That is always the better solution to anything…we have to sit and talk,” Santos said in a news conference in Bagac, Bataan on Friday, as reported by CBCP News.