MANILA - A government panel will meet with representatives from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines after a one-on-one meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the CBCP, a Palace spokesperson said Monday.
"Perhaps in the subsequent meeting there will be an agenda to be formulated and agreed upon by the parties. But for now it really will be a one-on-one private meeting between Archbishop Valles and the President," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque told reporters.
Roque said he met with around 18 bishops on Sunday evening in a dinner hosted by former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at her home.
"It was a social dinner although there were prayers said and there was of course a general consensus that the Church and State should work together in upholding the general welfare of the people," he said.
Though he cannot name all 18 bishops present, Roque said Valles and Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo were not in the meeting.
Arroyo has traditionally hosted the dinner from the time she was president whenever the bishops have their annual conclave "to emphasize the need for a close relationship between the Church and the State," said Roque.
He said while a bishop raised some issues about the President during the meeting, "there was no substantial discussion" on it as they all awaited the meeting between Duterte and Valles.
The two leaders, who both hail from Davao, are set to meet on Monday afternoon.
Roque said only the two would know what they intend to discuss with each other.
The dialogue would come after Duterte drew criticism from several Catholic bishops and other Christian groups after he called God "stupid” as he spoke about the creation story in the Bible.
Following the President's remarks, Valles urged Catholics to "remain steadfast in faith" and to "reflect on our long-held beliefs."
"Let peace rule in our hearts in spite of it all. If we have this in our hearts, we will love and respect others," Valles said.