President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s remarks questioning the Catholics’ commemoration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day were said in jest and not meant to offend religion, Malacañang said Saturday.
“The President’s remarks, as described by news articles, were said in jest,” Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in a press statement.
After last Thursday’s situation briefing on Typhoon Rosita in Isabela province, Duterte greeted the crowd “Happy All Saints’ Day” but jokingly questioned the observance of the Catholic tradition.
“So happy All Saints’…Bakit naman… Sabagay itong t****** talaga itong mga Katolikong p***. 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 (These f****** Catholics, why do they observe All Souls’ Day then there is also All Saints’ Day? We don’t even know who those saints are. Who are those stupid? drunkards?),” Duterte said.
“Dito na lang kayo. I’ll give you one pat — ah isang patron na ano para hindi na kayo mag-pasyal. Get hold of a picture of mine. ‘Yan ang ilagay niyo sa altar — Santo Rodrigo. (You stay with me. I’ll give you one patron so you don’t have to go around. Get hold of a picture of mine. Put it on the altar — Saint Rodrigo)” he added, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma reportedly criticized Duterte’s remarks, saying the President is “not a theologian nor has even studied catechesis or theology” to interpret Catholic doctrines.
Panelo said even reporters covering the event knew that Duterte was “only making light of a serious situation”.
“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 against the celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day,” Panelo said.
“Hence, PRRD’s remarks should not be viewed beyond the description of the reporters covering the event. A joke is a joke and the same does not require an explanation. Nor should it be given as a religious slight,” he added.
Panelo said Duterte had even visited his parents’ tombs in Davao City last Thursday night coming straight from the Isabela situation briefing.
“Actions should be given more weight than the spoken words when one ascertains the true attributes of a person for certainly actions speak louder than words,” Panelo said.
“Immediately prior to ending the said briefing, the President made the parting words, ‘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 added.
He said the strength and credibility of a religious faith “cannot be affected by what some deem as an assault by non-believers nor will its faithful be offended by any playful jab on its saints”.
“Christianity, or any major religion that preceded it, will always survive the test of time,” he added. (PNA)