Remark ‘taken out of context’
By Angie M. Rosales
It could be unknown to many that President Duterte had apologized to God for his “stupid” remark, but it was not addressed to religious groups or individual when he made in silence.
The President revealed having made his act of contrition to Jesus Is Lord founder Bro.
Eddie Villanueva when they met at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang Park Tuesday night. Villanueva had urged the President to make an apology straight to God.
Villanueva said he was “elated” by Duterte’s explanation.
“The President said ‘I already did that.’ So, Bro. Eddie (Villanueva) was surprised to hear it from him and he asked, ‘when Mr. President?’ (and the President’s reply was) ‘immediately after I made those remarks,’” presidential legal counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo said, recalling the conversation that took place between the two.
“He said I am very glad, the President gave a good explanation. He was misunderstood and taken out of context,” Villanueva said.
Mr. Duterte, in a statement, said he had apologized to his “all-forgiving” God but stressed he was not saying sorry to any Church or religious leader.
Present during the meeting
between the President and Villanueva were Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go, Panelo and lawyer Angelino Villanueva.
“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 on the official Facebook page of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
“I only apologize to God and nobody else. If I wronged God, then He would be happy to listen to my apology. Why? Because my God is all-forgiving. He does not remember past hurts. Why? Because God created me to be good, not bad,” he added.
Duterte, meanwhile, underlined the separation of Church and State, saying it is wrong to use God to attack him and his administration.
“Remember that there is a division between Church and State. You can criticize us (about) anything at all, be it from the garbage collector to generals and even to Vice President and Senator,” Duterte said.
Never use God’s name lightly
“But never, never use the name of God as a front to attack government because that is not the proper way to do it. There is a separation of State and Church. Do not use God to attack me. That is not proper and I’m sure that is not what God wanted,” he added.
The President further stressed that people created a concept of God on their own and that it was “human nature.”
“If you feel that somebody is doing it wrong, you must be talking about the wrong God or it must be a God that is not my God,” Duterte said.
Duterte earlier had formed a four-man panel with the Catholic Church and other religious leaders to push “healing” amid their spat.
Members of the panel include presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, Edsa People Power Commission Commissioner Pastor “Boy” Saycon and Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco.
Rody after Fox
“(And I) said to God, ‘Sorry God, you are not included here.’ I’m just saying this (God is stupid remark) because this (Australian nun Sister Patricia) Fox is ‘using (your name) in vain, she’s using religion to violate the law,’” Panelo also quoted the President as saying.
During Monday’s interview with Palace reporters in Pampanga after a speech, the President was asked about the “moratorium” of sort he and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles agreed on at a meeting.
In his speech in the event, the President talked about God anew as he warned critics against using religion to attack him.
Mr. Duterte explained he did not violate the moratorium as he was not attacking the Church.
“What I said (was) that if you use religion as a format, and I was — I was not referring to any religion. Makita mo wala akong binanggit na relihiyon (As you can see, I did not mention any particular religion. But if it’s a matter of me asking forgiveness, forget it. As a matter of principle, I will not. And I can burn in hell if it is true,” the President told reporters.
“I said, as a matter of principle, I will not (apologize). I would rather lose the presidency, lose the honor or lose my life. That could not be much clearer,” he added
Sen. Panfilo Lacson welcomed Mr. Duterte’s apology to God, saying the people can now move on while praying for the President’s “continued enlightenment.”
“It takes courage and character for a man to openly 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,” he said.
“I am glad that at the end of the day, he is still how I’ve known him,” Lacson said.
“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 in a statement.
He added Duterte’s apology to God also showed the President’s real character.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito welcomed the President’s apology, saying many Filipinos were hurt by his remarks against God.
“That is very much welcome. I myself, being a Christian, felt hurt by the President’s tirades against God. The President realized that millions of Filipinos felt the same way. So, this is very much welcome,” Ejercito said.
Sen. Sonny Angara said although there is a separation between Church and State, Duterte’s apology would be welcomed by many people.
“His apology will be welcomed by many no doubt,” he said.
Michael Pingol and Mario J. Mallari