Duterte vows to tone it down vs Catholic priests

ABS-CBN News

DAVAO - Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has promised to tone it down when issuing statements against Catholic priests.

Duterte recently came under fire for supposedly cursing Pope Francis over the traffic gridlocks caused by the Catholic leader's visit to the Philippines last January during a speech on Monday.

He also earned the ire of some, including the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), for seemingly flaunting his extra-marital affairs and saying he has no qualms in killing criminals.

Duterte later clarified that he was not cursing the Pope but was only expressing his anger over the alleged incompetence of the government in handling the traffic problems in Metro Manila.

READ: CBCP head rebukes Duterte for cursing Pope

READ: Duterte: It was never my intention to disrespect Pope Francis

Amid the furor caused by his expletive-laden speech, the tough-talking mayor then threatened to reveal the alleged abuses perpetrated by priests against minors, including him, in Ateneo de Davao.

Fr. Nono Alfonso, spokesperson of the Jesuits, has encouraged Duterte to talk to them about the alleged abuse, saying the information he will give will be handled properly and in utmost confidentiality.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, meanwhile, has called on Duterte to "do away with theatrics and identify his abuser or file a complaint."

Speaking to reporters, Duterte shared that he talked Thursday night with three priests who are his friends.

The priests, he said, requested him to not issue any message against the church until he talks with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles Friday afternoon.

"May sinabi nga ako doon accepting the challenge. Pinuntahan ako ng mga pari dito, yung tatlo, and they are my friends. Sinabi nila na Archbishop Valles would like to talk to me...at sinabi nila if I could just shut my mouth in the meantime bago kami mag-usap. You know, mga kaibigan ko ito, mga pari, and I'm sure that they mean well. So I will just follow their admonition," said Duterte.

"Huwag muna ako magsalita to prevent the whole episode from spinning into another event, which we do not like."

"Well, of course, I expect that the bishop is downhearted, if not angry, and maybe I will just listen. Marunong naman akong makinig," he added.

Duterte stressed that he has always had respect and high regards for the Catholic church, noting that he himself is a Catholic.

"I am a member of this flock. I have not changed religion. I'm still a Christian, as I have this deep and abiding faith in God. I only have one God," he said.

The mayor, however, said that he will not stop using curse words, as that is who he is.

PDP-Laban president Senator Koko Pimentel earlier urged Duterte to go easy on his profanities and just focus on his campaign platform for his presidential candidacy.

"Maybe I would tone down my p***," he said. "Sa pari. Ayoko na makipag-away."

"Maghahanap na lang ako ng ibang grupo," Duterte quipped.

Reiterating that he has never dreamed of becoming president, he said the people can just vote for the other candidates if they do not like his attitude and stand against criminality. -- Report from Elric Alyop, ABS-CBN News Davao