“I am happy that many people are now speaking out. Duterte crossed the red line when he insults our God. People have come out of their stupor. I say to all, wake up and stand up. Evil should not be tolerated,” Pabillo said in his blog.
The prelate said a person “who has no respect for others and even for God is himself not respectable.”
Although people are entitled to their own beliefs, this does not give a person the privilege to attack and publicly shame other beliefs, “even if he is the highest official in the land.”
“Some continue to tolerate Duterte on the ground of freedom of speech and even of freedom of religion. Freedom of speech should not be given as a reason for such a blasphemous attack. Freedom of speech brings out with it responsibility to respect what others hold dear. If Duterte does not believe in the teachings of our faith, we cannot do anything about that. He can believe what he wants,” he said.
“Each one of us will stand in front of the judgment seat of God one day. But he should not call our God stupid! He should not denigrate our faith in a public forum,” Pabillo said.
Debatable track record on truth
Pabillo questioned the Duterte government’s sincerity in reconciling its differences with the Church and other religious groups, citing its debatable track record in terms of “openness to the truth.”
“Unfortunately the track record of this government does not point to this. First, the persons that are asked to conduct this dialogue on their part do not have a good record of openness to the truth,” Pabillo said, referring to the members of the dialogue panel formed by Palace.
The panel members are Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr., political strategist Pastor “Boy Saycon,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, and Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio Evasco, a former priest.
Saycon had claimed that Church leaders could be involved in a destabilization plot against the government, a statement he later took back and rejected by the Palace.
“Do Roque, Saycon and Panelo have the ability to understand their dialogue partners and not jump to conclusions and false accusations as they are doing now?” Pabillo said.
Dialogue should have happened even before President Duterte criticized Church teachings and the Christian faith, he said.
“We cannot then fault people who see this offer for dialogue as a damage control measure for the strong protests against Duterte and his cohorts. It may just be offered as a face-saving strategy. Is there really sincerity in this offer of dialogue?”
A CBCP official, Fr. Jerome Secillano, talked to Saycon in a preliminary meeting on Thursday.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. also had a meeting with Archbishop Gabriel Giordano Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines on Friday night, and it was agreed that CBCP President Romulo Valles and Duterte would have a “one-on-one” dialogue.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson agreed that Duterte crossed the line when he insulted God.
“I believe that he crossed the line. So he should make amends. After all he is the leader of our country,” Lacson said on Sunday.
He added that the creation of a government panel to talk to various Christian groups offended by the President is a good move.
The senator said the President should work on his statesmanship and watch his statements because these could be misunderstood.
Pabillo also lamented delays in the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).
“The peace negotiations with the CCP-NPA have shown the inability of the government in coming to any agreement,” he said..
Pabillo said President Duterte could “whimsically cut-off negotiations and pull away from hard-earned agreements with flimsy reasons and accusations.” / WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA BY CATHERINE A. MODESTO ON
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