MANILA—Malacañang on Thursday welcomed recent "expressions of concern" by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas for President Rodrigo Duterte's well-being.
In a statement, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government considers it as "an invitation to a healthy, mature and constructive discourse between the Church and the State."
The statement came after Villegas said he is worried that Duterte's attacks on the Catholic Church will impact him more than the religious institution he is targeting.
Panelo, however, said Duterte is "as healthy as a bull given his age and punishing schedule."
"While he is at it, Archbishop Villegas may thus wish to implore the Heavens to bless the President with good health so he can accomplish more for our country," he said.
Panelo added that Church leaders do not need to "act distressed and manifest their unpleasant comments against the President, especially with respect to how the President runs the government."
"There will always be disagreement in religious beliefs but that should not deter us from helping each other for the good of the country," he said.
"Let us, therefore, focus on our respective duties and maintain the inviolability of the separation between the Church and the State to avoid religion and governance from mixing and impeding upon each other."
Panelo earlier urged Catholic bishops not to meddle in the affairs of the state.