Palma on Duterte’s change of heart about threats on priests: I hope, pray he’s serious
CEBU CITY, Philippines—Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said that the recent pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the death threats against Catholic bishops and priests was some kind of conversion.
“I also believe that this should be the direction he (Duterte) should take because now with the election coming. It would not help finding more enemies,” said Palma.
Palma said that he was happy that a person such as President Duterte could develop a certain conversion of his sentiments from his previous statements that encouraged robbers to attack bishops claiming that the Church leaders were corrupt anyway.
“I hope and pray that the President is serious. Instead of developing animosity and instead of finding ways of disagreement, we can collaborate and work together with the community,” said Palma.
The prelate said that he had not received any death threats similar to that of Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, a critic of the administration’s war on drugs and extrajudicial killings.
Palma quoted Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle that the threat might not even come from the President himself and could have been done by some other groups.
“It may be true. It may even be done who is (from the group) of Duterte. Someone who just said that ‘I am one of the group of the President.’ We are not very sure,” said Palma.
On Duterte’s last visit to Cebu, February 24, he said those seeking to harm priests and bishops would have to contend with him as an enemy.
However, before the start of the campaign, the President attacked the Church for alleged sexual abuses and corruption and even called on “tambay” (loiterers) to kill bishops because all they did was to criticize his brutal war on drugs.
On Wednesday, February 28, the Palace already said the reported death threats against Catholic bishops could have been “made up.”
“We have to investigate if the threats are true,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a radio interview.|dbs
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