MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte was criticizing theologians, not God, when he found fault in the Bible's creation story, his chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo said Tuesday.
Duterte on Saturday questioned why God allowed his "perfect" creation to be ruined by letting Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit.
"Who is this stupid God? Estupido talaga itong p***** i** kung ganun. You created some --- something perfect and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work," he said in a speech.
Panelo said the story of creation was a brainchild of theologians, not God himself.
"It's not God who gave us the story. This theory of creation is made by writers of the Bible, not God himself. He didn't come down and tell us this is my theory of your creation," he said in an ANC interview.
"When he was asking, 'Who is this stupid God?', he was actually referring to those who advocated or expounded on the theory of creation, and that refers to the writers of the Bible as well as the theologians," he added.
Neither was Duterte's comment an attack on the Catholic Church, said Panelo.
"When you question one's theory of a particular group, you do not attack, you are just questioning the logic. He needs explanation, then it's for that religion to explain that concept," he said.
The President, he added, "is not against the institution, he is against the immoral and hypocritical clergy."
Duterte and the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines have been trading criticisms since the election period in 2016.
The former Davao City mayor has accused the Church of being the most hypocritical institution.
Several members of the clergy, including Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, have denounced the administration's bloody war against illegal drugs. The government has insisted that it does not condone killings.