MANILA - It was farthest from his mind to disrespect Pope Francis, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday.
In a post on his official Facebook page, Duterte clarified his earlier statement seemingly cursing the Catholic leader over the traffic gridlocks caused by his visit to the Philippines last January.
Duterte expressed regret that his speech pertaining to the Pope in connection with the traffic jams in Metro Manila came across as being disrespectful.
"It was farthest from his mind and was never his intention," the statement read.
Duterte admitted that he should have explained better his point on the alleged incompetence of the government in handling the traffic problems in the metropolis.
He said he was merely expressing his anger brought about by the helplessness of the millions of commuters suffering from daily gridlocks.
The mayor nonetheless said he understands the reactions of many who were not pleased with his statement.
"It was never intended to be directed to the person of His Holiness Pope Francis, who has his utmost respect. It was out of exasperation at the inutility of the functionaries in government not only during that historic visit of Pope Francis but at the daily sufferings of all citizens in Metro Manila up to this moment.
"Mayor Rody also fully understands the reactions of many who, at the very least, are displeased and disappointed at this unfortunate and regrettable incident," the statement read.
READ: CBCP head rebukes Duterte for cursing Pope
Duterte, who is running for president under the PDP-Laban, on Monday came under fire for supposedly cursing Pope Francis after he allegedly got caught in a traffic jam during the Catholic leader's visit in the Philippines.
"From the hotel to the airport, alam mo inabot kami ng... limang oras. Sabi ko bakit? Sabi pinasarado daw," he said during his speech at the Century Park hotel where he was formally declared PDP-Laban standard bearer.
Duterte said a friend told him that the traffic jam was caused by the Pope's arrival.
"Gusto kong tawagan, 'Pope p---- ka umuwi ka na. 'Wag ka nang magbisita dito,'” Duterte said.
The tough-talking mayor, however, later denied cursing at Pope Francis, saying he was cursing at the way the government handled the security preparations that led to closures of some roads resulting to massive traffic jams in the metro.
"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!"