MANILA - The president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Tuesday criticized aspiring president Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly cursing at Pope Francis after his visit caused heavy traffic in Metro Manila.
In a Facebook post, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said public officials should be visionaries who lead by example.
Villegas added that corruption, the "great scourge of Philippine politics," is not just limited to stealing public funds but takes on many forms, including killing, adultery and corruption.
"When we find vulgarity funny, we have really become beastly and barbaric as a people. When a revered and loved and admired man like Pope Francis is cursed by a political candidate and the audience laugh, I can only bow my head and grieve in great shame. My countrymen has gone to the dregs," he said in his Facebook post.
"Is this the leadership by example that Mayor Duterte excites in us? Is this the leadership by example that makes a public official deserving of the title 'Honorable?' I grieve for my country."
Duterte drew flak yesterday for supposedly swearing at the pontiff after he allegedly got caught in a traffic jam during the Catholic leader's visit in the Philippines in January.
The Davao mayor, during his speech at the Century Park hotel where he was formally declared PDP-Laban standard-bearer, said he got stuck for five hours in a traffic gridlock because of Pope Francis.
"From the hotel to the airport, alam mo inabot kami ng… limang oras. Sabi ko bakit? Sabi pinasarado daw," he said.
"Gusto kong tawagan, 'Pope p******"
In the speech, Duterte also admitted to having several lovers and detailed how he punishes lawbreakers.
Duterte warns outlaws: 'I can eat your heart in front of you'
Duterte later denied cursing Pope Francis. The mayor, however, clarified that he would still not invite the pontiff back to the country.
In an ambush interview at a radio station in Makati City Duterte claimed that it was not Pope Francis who he was cursing, but the way the government handled the security preparations that led to closures of some roads resulting to massive traffic jams in the metro.
Duterte said he peed in his car after being stuck for hours in traffic during the Pope's visit. This, he said, was evidence of incompetency on the part of the government.
"I never said p**** mo Pope. I said ‘‘t****, huwag ka na pumunta dito.’" he clarified.
"You travel for five hours for five kilometers, you don’t use your heads! You allow people to endure hardships!" Duterte insisted.
"I don’t crave for ratings, I do not need praises, I will not die if I don’t become the president" Duterte added. "If you don’t like my character, the solution is do not vote for me."