MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's disparaging remarks against the Catholic Church have not dissuaded millions of Filipinos from their faith, church leaders said Thursday.
Speaking to "Bandila sa DZMM," Fr. Jerome Secillano said this year's annual procession of Black Nazarene, popularly known as Traslacion, is a testament of Filipinos' intense Catholic devotion.
"Sa kabila ng lahat, hindi mo matitinag ang pananampalataya ng Katolikong Pilipino," the executive secretary of the public affairs committee of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said.
(In spite of everything, you can't shake the faith of Filipino Catholics.)
Some 4 million people participated the Traslacion in the capital and other religious rites, according to official police estimates.
"Kahit anong birada mo sa Diyos, tirahin mo man ng tirahin ang simbahan, banatan mo ng banatan 'yung obispo, pati mga pari, eh kung 'yung tao mismo, dama niya na kailangan niya ng Diyos, it doesn't matter," Secillano added.
(No matter how much you attack God, the Church, bishops, and priests, if a person feels he/she needs the Lord, it doesn't matter.)
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, meanwhile, said he took pity on the President's tirades that seem to fall on deaf ears.
"Kawawa naman siya, salita nang salita, sigaw nang sigaw, pinagtatawanan ang mga tao, pero wala namang epekto sa buhay ng tao, kasi naniniwala tayo na matalino ang mga Pilipino at malalim ang pananampalataya," he said.
(He's pitiful. He rants and rants while people laugh with him, but don't have any bearing because Filipinos are smart and have deep faith.)
Pabillo, who has criticized Duterte on the bloody war on drugs, called on the faithful to pray for the President instead.
"Ipagdasal natin siya... mas lalo nating ipakita sa kaniya na ang kaniyang sinasabi ay hindi totoo," he said.
(We pray for him... we prove him wrong.)
Duterte on Wednesday renewed his attack against the Church, urging "tambays” or bystanders to kill or steal from supposedly rich bishops.
“Kayong mga tambay diyan, ‘pag dumaan ‘yang obispo ninyo holdapa ‘yan maraming pera ‘yan p***** i** niya.” [laughter] Patayin mo. Galit sa akin ‘yung sigeng yawyaw,” he said in a speech during the birthday celebration of Masbate Governor Antonio Kho.
Secillano cried foul over the President's statement, saying it is unfair and unjust to members of the clergy.
"Kasi alam mo naman maraming naniniwala sa kaniya eh... kapag inutusan mo 'yung mga tao, hindi natin alam eh, baka naman may gawin," he said.
(Because many people believe in him... If you ask the public something, you never know they'll do it.)
Secillano also denied Duterte's accusation that Church leaders have lavish lifestyles.
"'Yung mga taong simbahan, obispo, mga pari, hindi naman 'yan mayaman talaga. Sabihin na lang natin na meron talagang ikabubuhay 'yan," he said.
(Churchmen are not rich. Let's just say they earn enough.)
Under the Duterte administration, several priests have been killed by unknown assailants that had sparked outrage from the Catholic faithful and human rights groups. Among them were Fathers Marcelito Paez, Richmond Nilo, and Mark Anthony Ventura.
Sought to comment if Duterte's tirades may have influenced the incidents, Secillano said he will leave it to authorities.
"I don't want to impute any guilt on anybody... Pero 'yun nga lang, its a very dangerous message," he said.
Asked about the supposed dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Palace, Secillano said no progress was apparently achieved.
"Lumalabas kasi dito na kapag 'yung issue medyo nag-die down, so 'yung puwedeng gawin, mga intervention sana, nawawala din," he said.
(It turned out, when an issue dies down, interventions were not sustained.)
The administration sought the dialogue following Duterte’s controversial remark calling God “stupid” as he spoke about the creation story in the Bible.
Secillano said Church leaders are not criticizing the President per se, but issues surrounding his administration.
"Huwag magkapersonalan. Tingnan ang mga issue," he said.
(Don't take it personal. Let's look at issues instead.) - with a report from Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News