Philippines Report

Duterte to meet privately with CBCP President today

President Rodrigo Duterte will hold a one-on-one, closed-door meeting with the head of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) at the Malacañang Palace on Monday afternoon

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday said the meeting was directly arranged by Duterte and CBCP President Romulo Valles, a known ally of the President.

He said the meeting aims for a “closer cooperation between state and Church in their desire to serve the people better.”

“After this initial one-on-one, there will be a meeting arranged between CBCP and our panel. Perhaps in the subsequent meeting, there will be an agenda to be formulated and agreed upon by the parties,” he said in a regular media briefing.

Roque said the CBCP is crafting a pastoral letter or an official letter from a bishop to all the clergy or members of the diocese. He said it will most likely be issued after the government's four-man panel holds talks with the Catholic Church.

Today marks the last day of the CBCP plenary assembly, where high-ranking priests discuss pressing issues that the church is facing in the country.

The presidential spokesperson said he met with 18 bishops on Sunday night in the home of Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, where he tried to find out the contents of the letter, and failed.

“I tried to pry into the content of the pastoral letter that is traditionally prepared. I did not get any indication of what would be in the pastoral letter,” he said. He added Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, a critic of the Duterte administration, will not be writing the letter.

Duterte draw flak after calling God “stupid” at a speech in Davao City in June.

Days after, at another event in Cagayan de Oro, Duterte defended his statement, saying he uttered them in connection to an Australian nun whom he accused of taking part in political rallies.

“Wala akong sinabi na torpe ang Ginoo ko. Sabi ko — you review the tapes — your God is not my God because your God is stupid. Mine has a lot of common sense,” he said.

Duterte added he had the freedom to believe in who he wanted to believe.

In another speech on Friday, Duterte said he will step down from the presidency if there was anyone who can prove God exists and that he has personally seen and talked to God. (CNN Philippines)

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