“If it’s the same God, I’m sorry, that’s how it is. Sorry, God. I said sorry, God. If God is taken in a generic term by everybody listening then that’s well and good,” Duterte said in a video posted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office on its Facebook page yesterday.
Presidential Photo
Duterte: 'Sorry, God'
Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) - July 12, 2018 - 12:00am

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A few weeks after making his controversial God is “stupid” statement, President Duterte finally did what religious leaders and other quarters wanted him to do: issue an apology.

“If it’s the same God, I’m sorry, that’s how it is. Sorry, God. I said sorry, God. If God is taken in a generic term by everybody listening then that’s well and good,” Duterte said in a video posted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office on its Facebook page yesterday.

The video was recorded during Duterte’s meeting with Jesus Is Lord Church Worldwide founder and president Eduardo Villanueva, lawyer Angelino Villanueva, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo at Malacañang’s Malago Clubhouse last Tuesday night.

“But I only apologize to God and nobody else. If I wronged God, he would be happy to listen. Why? Because my God is all-forgiving. Why? Because God created me to be good and not bad,” the President emphasized.

Villanueva earlier urged Duterte to apologize to God.

Their meeting followed Duterte’s one-on-one with Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, also at Malacañang, last Monday.

But the President refused to divulge details of his meeting with Valles.

Duterte explained to Villanueva that he was addressing foreign religious missionaries who come to the Philippines and join protests and strikes and then use God in criticizing government.

“I said my God is good and it does not thrive in tithes and never egg people to help, and I said what makes you think that your God is my God? I said, and if you review the tape, my God has common sense and does not create trouble,” he added.

The President said his concept of God coincides with the concept of separation of church and state.

“You can criticize us anything at all. Never, never use the name of God as a front to attack government. Do not use God to attack government. There is a separation of power between the church and government. Why don’t you just go there and help and feed people?” the President said.

Panelo said the meeting lasted for two and a half hours.

“Brother Eddie expressed appreciation for the explanation of (the President) and said he and other Christian groups misunderstood him,” Panelo said.

After seeking Duterte’s permission, Villanueva then prayed over the President.

“While Brother Eddie was saying his prayers the President closed his eyes, clasped his hands and bowed his head as shown in the video I took,” Panelo told reporters.

Enlightenment and faith

Duterte’s apology to God meant the Chief Executive has been enlightened, Sen. Panfilo Lacson yesterday said, adding that Duterte now hopes that Filipinos who doubted him over his remarks will have their faith in him restored.

“I can only thank God for enlightening our President to make that humble apology. It shouldn’t matter much if it was my God or his God he is apologizing to, because there is only one God of the universe anyway,” Lacson said.

“I know there are firm God believers like me supporting his presidency who can now get over the dilemma of whether or not to continue supporting his leadership,” he said.

He said Filipinos can move on from Duterte’s controversial comments against God while they continue praying for his enlightenment.

He cited Duterte for his courage and character to accept his mistake and apologize.

“This was how I knew the President in the many times that I was dealing with him when he was still mayor of Davao City,” Lacson said.

Sen. Joel Villanueva, son of the religious leader, said he was glad that Duterte apologized.

“Only the Lord our God can judge our sincerity. Moving forward, I hope the President can lead us toward greater unity and respect for one’s faith and religion and to focus all energy on policies that can uplift the nation,” Villanueva said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto suggested that Duterte use the people’s support for his administration wisely, especially that his ratings are on a downward trend.

“Fighting the Church and calling God stupid is unnecessarily utilizing political capital,” Recto said.

Sen. Sonny Angara welcomed the meeting that led to Duterte’s apology.

“Although there is a constitutional separation of church and state, many of our countrymen hold God and their religion very close to their hearts,” Angara said. – With Christina Mendez, Paolo Romero

CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES CATHOLIC CHURCH PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS OPERATIONS OFFICE
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