MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday downplayed President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark that Catholic bishops are better off dead.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president was just employing “hyperbole” when he said that bishops should be killed for being “useless.”
“That’s only hyperbole on the part of the President… He is making these statements for dramatic effect,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
Panelo said the President merely wants his critics in the Catholic Church to “stop criticizing, do something good.”
The President has recently stepped up his verbal attacks against Catholic prelates, especially against Caloocan Bishop Pablo David, one of his most ardent critics.
David has taken Duterte’s criticism in stride, saying the public should just bear with the President because he is “a very sick man.”
Under Duterte, several priests have been killed by unknown assailants, and critics say the alleged climate of impunity under the current administration has emboldened the killers.
Duterte routinely attacks the Church and its teachings. Earlier this year, he drew flak after calling God “stupid.”
To deal with the public outrage, the Palace formed a team to hold a dialogue with the Catholic Church, but it remains unclear what progress was achieved by the talks.