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Duterte says he believes in God but not in religion

In this Dec. 4, 2015 photo, incoming president Rody Duterte speaks with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles days after his controversial speech where he complained against Pope Francis's visit in the Philippines. Duterte staff/Released, File photo
DAVAO CITY – While he was raised a Catholic, presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte said he does not believe in organized religion even if he is a believer of God.
 
“For the record, I believe in God but I do not believe in religion period,” the incoming Philippine president told GMA News in an interview aired on Thursday.
 
Duterte also criticized Catholic bishops for supposedly requesting vehicles from former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
 
“To the bishops, I would like to ask you: Do you believe in the separation of the Church and the state? Are you really into it?” Duterte said.
 
“During the time of Gloria Arroyo, you asked for vehicles, you asked for (Mitsubishi) Montero. And you call that separation of church and state?” he added.
 
The separation of church and state is enshrined in the constitution and prohibits the establishment of a state religion. The provision also bars the state from interfering in the free exercise of the religious beliefs of citizens. Some sectors, however, believe that the provision also means that religious groups cannot meddle with government affairs.
 
In 2011, then Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairperson Margie Juico revealed in a Senate hearing that some officials of the Catholic Church had received luxury vehicles from the agency’s funds.
 
She said Butuan Bishop Juan De Dios Pueblos had even asked Arroyo to provide him a vehicle for his 66th birthday. The bishop admitted that he received a vehicle from the president but claimed that it was used for charity works.
 
The bishops have returned seven vehicles worth to the PCSO, with Pueblos admitting that he had committed “a lapse of judgement.”
 
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, however, said that the issue on the bishops’ vehicles may have been used as a smokescreen for the near doubling of the multi-million peso PCSO intelligence fund in 2010, an election year. 
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