Palace on Duterte's comment on saints: People laughed, weren't offended

Palace on Duterte's comment on saints: People laughed, weren't offended
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over a situation briefing at Hotel Andrea in Cauayan City, Isabela on November 1, 2018 to check the updates on the government's disaster response operations following the onslaught of Typhoon Rosita.
Rey Baniquet / Presidential Photo, released

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Saturday said there is no need to explain President Rodrigo Duterte's comment on Catholics' belief in saints since those who heard it laughed and found nothing offensive about it.

“The fact that they burst into laughter (as shown by the video clips of the TV news) showed that they were not offended by what the good Bishop and a few critics perceived to be an offensive religious statement,” presidential spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

According to the Presidential Communications and Operations Office, among the officials present at the briefing were Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, and Health Secretary Francisco Duque.

Local officials were also at the briefing.

"A joke is a joke and the same does not require an explanation. Nor should it be given as a religious slight," Panelo also said in response to some Catholics who felt slighted and expressed disappointment over Duterte’s remarks about saints on All Saints’ Day, a Catholic holiday.

'Who are those fools? Drunkards'

"So happy All Saints’...Bakit naman… Sabagay itong t****** talaga itong mga Katolikong p***.” Duterte said on Thursday during the situation briefing on Typhoon Rosita’s aftermath.

“Bakit naman may All Souls’ Day tapos may All Saints’ Day? Hindi nga natin alam kung sino 'yang mga santo na ‘yon. Sino ‘yung mga g*** na 'yon? Mga lasenggo,” he added.

(Happy All Saints’….These... Catholics, why do they observe All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day? We don’t even know who those saints are. Who are those fools? Drunkards)

For traditional Catholics, All Saints' Day is a day for remembering saints and martyrs while All Souls' Day is for remembering the dead.

"Dito na lang kayo. I'll give you one pat — ah isang patron na ano para hindi na kayo mag-pasyal, (Just stay with me. I’ll give you one patron saint so you can stop searching for one)" the president said.

"Get hold of a picture of mine. 'Yan ang ilagay niyo sa altar — Santo Rodrigo. [laughter] (Get hold of a picture of mine and put it on the altar — Saint Rodrigo,)" he added.

Duterte's official All Saints' Day message

Duterte made the remark just hours after his office released a statement calling on the Filipinos to honor the departed and emulate saints in observance of the “solemn” public holiday.

"I call on the entire nation to honor those who have gone before us in the grace of God. Their legacy remains an important part of who were are today and we have much to gain from their virtuous example," the president said in the released statement.

“We all have our obligations to the dead. It’s practically part of the culture but more than that, it’s something that is very important for us to commune with our ancestors,” he also said.

The comment did not sit well with Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines vice president, who described the president as “very sick man.”

READ: ‘Santo Rodrigo’: Duterte pokes fun at Catholic ‘All Saints Day’ | ‘We pray for him’: Bishop says Duterte a ‘very sick man’

 “Please remember, Jesus taught us to be merciful when dealing with sick people. I think it should be obvious to people by now that our country is being led by a very sick man. We pray for him. We pray for our country,” Virgilio said in a Facebook post.

Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the Graduate School of Law at San Beda College, said on his Twitter account that he doesn't understand why Duterte makes comments against Catholic beliefs.

"I really don't get it. What does the President hope to gain by slurring Catholic beliefs and practices? Criticism following sound theology would be welcome discourse, but this kind of tirade is hurtful and utterly pointless," he said on Saturday.

President visited parents' tomb, Palace points out

Panelo also cited that Duterte visited his parents’ tomb after his briefing. “Actions should be given more weight than the spoken words,” Panelo said.

In June, Duterte, known for criticizing the Catholic Church, also received criticism from Christian and Catholic groups when he called God “stupid” and questioned the "logic" of the creation story, an allegorical narrative.

READ: Lacson sides with God after Duterte’s anti-Catholic remarks

He made the comments despite previous claims in his speeches that he became president because of God. —Rosette Adel

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