Duterte asks forgiveness for cussing pope
Danny Dangcalan (The Philippine Star) - February 18, 2016 - 9:00am

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte has asked forgiveness from Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra for saying something bad against Pope Francis.

“Monsignor, I am Rodrigo Duterte, I’m a Catholic, I just want to convey and I’d like to ask for forgiveness from everybody. It was never my intention to dishonor the pope,” the tough-talking mayor told Navarra during a courtesy call at the Bishop’s House here. 

Beside Navarra were priests Felix Pasquin, rector of the San Sebastian Cathedral, and Ireneo Gordoncillo.

Duterte, mayor of Davao City, hurled expletives at the pope in a televised speech after his proclamation as the official standard-bearer of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) on Nov. 30.

Drawing flak, he later explained that it was not meant to dishonor the pope but to vent his frustrations over the way the Aquino government handled the traffic situation, the suffering of the people and the lawlessness in the country.

He said it took him five hours just to reach one of Metro Manila’s malls.

Navarra said the issue has died down and that he has forgiven Duterte, adding that the public understood the point. He admitted though being taken aback the first time he heard the remarks.

“But then you went to the Bishop’s House in Davao and explained yourself... I believe that cleared your name. The issue has died down,” Navarra told Duterte.

But the prelate said Duterte “has to prove it. The way he conducts his campaign. If ever he gets elected, he should prove his worth.”

Navarra said that paying a courtesy call on him is “a normal activity for all candidates” visiting Bacolod.

The bishop said that during their closed-door meeting Duterte promised to follow the law in his decision-making and actions, and would not try to resort to violence.

Duterte promised his supporters in Bacolod to solve the country’s problem on drugs, criminality and corruption during the first six months in office, if he gets elected.

Don’t go to war

He also said the country should not go to war against China over the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea as he questioned the US pledge to assist Philippines militarily.

“Why should we go to war? What can we benefit from it? Do you think we can match China’s military?” Duterte told reporters in UP Diliman where he held a “creative listening” session with vendors and campus residents as part of his nationwide “Ronda Serye” tour yesterday.

He also questioned the readiness of the US to aid the Philippines if an armed conflict erupts.

“The most critical question is will the Americans be on our side?” Duterte said.

China has reportedly deployed a surface-to-air missile system on Woody Island, one of the contested islands in the disputed sea. Fox News earlier released a civilian satellite imagery dated Feb. 14 from ImageSat International to show two batteries of eight surface-to-air missile launchers, which appear to be the HQ-9 air defense system.   – With Mike Frialde

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