MANILA - Malacañang on Wednesday rejected a demand for a public apology from President Rodrigo Duterte following his controversial statement calling God “stupid.”
Bro. Eddie Villanueva of the Philippines for Jesus Movement told ANC on Wednesday that he sent a letter to Duterte expressing the Christian organization's dismay over his controversial remarks and asking him to apologize publicly to God.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said “the God that I know will not demand a public apology.”
“The God that I know is a God of love and He’s too big for any words that may come from the mouth of a mortal,” Roque said in a press briefing.
Duterte has drawn flak after calling God “stupid” as he mocked the creation story in the Bible.
The President questioned why God should create “something perfect” only to “destroy” it later with the original sin committed by Adam and Eve.
Christian groups were outraged by the President’s remarks, but the President was unfazed and maintained his stance on the matter.
Villanueva's son, Sen. Joel Villanueva, earlier called for respect for all faiths and religions as he said he was taught to never take God's name in vain.
"I stand firm that my God is real and He is alive. We pray for the President’s enlightenment. We should condemn bigotry and respect all faith and religion," he said.
Roque dismissed the elder Villanueva's public apology demand as he met with leaders of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), which earlier said its members were “immensely offended” by the President’s tirades.
The President formed a committee composed of Roque, political strategist and self-proclaimed civic leader Pastor “Boy” Saycon, and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella to hold a dialogue with Catholic Church leaders and other Christian groups.
PCEC national director Bishop Noel Pantoja welcomed government's initiative.
“We are thankful to the President. Part of the letter that we wrote, the statement in response to his words on the creation story is we asked, we urged the President to dialogue with Christian leaders,” Pantoja said.
“What happened became a blessing in disguise because this opened up an opportunity for the Christian church and the body of Christ to be able to have a dialogue with the leaders of the nation and hopefully with the President in the coming days so we can pray for him and express our desire to support in the building of the nation.”
Roque said Duterte might also meet with PCEC leaders soon to “start the process of healing and moving forward.”
He said the committee would also soon meet with Catholic Church leaders.
In a letter to Manila's priests on Wednesday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle called for peace and calm.