Malacañang on Thursday welcomed the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) readiness to work with the Duterte administration to address social problems following spats over summary killings and the proposed restoration of the death penalty.

“The statement of Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP President, that Catholic bishops are open to exploring avenues of collaboration with the Duterte administration is a welcome change,” the president’s spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

He noted that while the bishops are “100 percent against the proliferation of drugs and support 100 percent the campaign against drugs,” they emphasized rehabilitation, which is part of the second phase of the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

“We thus look forward to their help in treating drug dependents and restoring their mental, spiritual, and psycho-emotional health,” the Palace official said.

Abella echoed Villegas’ statement that the Catholic Church “is not against the President” but against some policies and measures that they believe “would not help the Philippines and the Filipino people.”

He also agreed with the CBCP president that “it is not the business of the Church to be leading political upheavals.”

“It is a good reminder that power struggles between church and state belong to a dim dark past, and in a world that has evolved by leaps and bounds, it is imperative that all work together to put food on every table, no matter what beliefs one holds in private,” Abella said.

Villegas, in a television interview on Tuesday, said that they have agreed to work with the government in uplifting the poor and in developing Mindanao during a recent dialogue with Cabinet officials.

“We have made a breakthrough... We are exploring possibilities for collaboration such as working for the poor and empowering Mindanao,” Villegas said.