MANILA - Investigating President Rodrigo Duterte's claim of being abused by a priest when he was young is difficult as the clergyman is already dead, Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani said.
The retired bishop said he tried asking around to know more about the President's accusations, but he found out the said priest was already dead.
Bacani made the statement amid tense exchanges with Malacañang after his "friendly challenge" for Duterte to walk the streets without bodyguards. Malacañang has called his dare "outright silly," "childish" and "absurd."
"Ang balita ko, nagtanong ho ako tungkol diyan eh. Ang balita ko po, namatay na 'yung paring 'yun. Kaya ang hirap na pong imbestigahan," Bacani told DZMM.
(From what I heard, I asked around about that, that priest is already dead. This is why it's difficult to investigate.)
Bacani said Duterte's claims could either be true or just one of his jokes.
"'Yung pari daw na 'yun, 'yung binabanggit ay namatay na. Ngayon, hindi ko naman itinatanggi na baka ginawa 'yun o baka naman, katulad ng karamihan ng sinasabi niya, joke lang 'yun eh," he said.
(That priest has died. I am not denying that it (abuse) happened, but it is also possible that just like his other statements, it may just be a joke.)
During the 2016 presidential campaign, then Davao City Mayor Duterte claimed he was abused in a Catholic school when he was still a young boy.
The then Davao City mayor revealed his alleged experience amid the furor caused by his expletive-laden speech where he cursed at Pope Francis.
Duterte has been attacking the Church since he assumed the presidency, calling it the "most hypocritical institution"
Last year, he called God "stupid" as he questioned the story of creation in the Holy Bible, called on the people to stop going to church, and called the Church the "most hypocritical institution," among others.