OUTSPOKEN Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte has called the dominant Roman Catholic Church “the most hypocritical institution”, alleging it was fraught with graft and requests for favors from politicians.
The Davao City mayor also questioned the relevance of Catholic bishops who apparently persuaded Filipinos against voting for him in the previous election which he had won with a landslide margin.
Accusing them of benefiting from public money, Duterte cursed the bishops, calling them “sons of bitches” as the poor could not even afford food and medicine.
During the campaign, Duterte said told Catholics they may go to hell if they voted for him because bishops have criticized him as immoral, partly for advocating the killing of criminals.
However, the warning did not stop millions of Filipinos from voting for him in the election.
“Look, were you able to stop me?” Duterte asked the church, citing his lead of more than six million votes over his closest rival.
Duterte said this in a late-night news conference that dragged on into yesterday’s early hours in southern Davao City. His condemnation of the influential religious institution has been described as a rare incident, given that Philippine’s was widely considered as a bastion of Catholicism.
The ‘blasphemous’ mayor also accused the bishops of violating their vow of celibacy by getting married or keeping women and seeking favors such as cars from politicians. Without elaborating, he recounted an incident in which church officials ‘forced’ him to use his position as mayor to help them gain land in a residential estate.
Geez, Duterte is the real deal huh
— Tantum Malorum (@InaneImperium) May 23, 2016
He said such acts amounted to corruption and contravened the separation of church and state provided under the nation’s constitution.
“Some people here in the Philippines can’t even afford to have food to eat or get medicine while you’re enjoying the money of the goddamn people,” Duterte was quoted saying by the Associated Press.
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves, you sons of bitches?”
He went on to say: “You know, the most hypocritical institution is the Catholic Church.”
However, Duterte later apologized for making those remarks.
This was not the first time the 71-year-old firebrand mayor courted religious controversy. In January this year, he called Pope Francis a “son of a bitch” during his visit to the country, accusing the latter’s entourage during their visit to the Philippines as the cause of massive traffic jams.
In the days leading up to when he takes oath for office on June 30, Duterte said he would continue to publicly disclose “the sins of the Catholic church” and whether or not it is “still relevant”. Duterte said although he believed in God, he did not believe in religion.
Additional reporting by Associated Press