MANILA -- Hell and the devil are real, a pastor who is tipped to lead the House minority said Tuesday, as he disagreed with President Rodrigo Duterte's comments on religion.
During his fourth State of the Nation Address on Monday, Duterte said God would not "create hell for his creation."
"I would tell him that I believe God in the Bible, that God is not the author of sin. I would tell him the devil is real, hell is real because it’s in the Bible. It takes faith to believe in Him. If he doesn’t want to it’s up to him," said Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, a senior pastor of the Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church.
"I don’t agree with that, that would be something that the President and I would disagree on. And even if we talk about it together personally, I would tell him that," he said.
Abante said he was "offended" with Duterte's earlier remarks about God but said the President was "only expressing his only constitutional freedom."
"When I first heard that several months ago [he was] attacking the Catholic Church, I said well he’s a Catholic so perhaps he has a right. But when he began to speak about God in general, the first time I was actually offended," he said.
"I told myself the President is the President, I think it would be better for him to be more adept with political policies than try to argue with religion but I guess he has freedom to do it."
The lawmaker said he would support death penalty for heinous crimes, even as he considered himself as pro-life.
"My advocacy is more pro-life but when it comes to the death penalty, I’ve always been supportive of death penalty ever since I came in the 13th Congress. But only for heinous crimes, rape, massacre, plunder," he said.
Abante said he had "reservations" on the government's drug war, which has resulted in the deaths of 5,526 drug suspects since the President assumed his post.
"I believe totally in the drug war. I fully support it. [But] I have reservation on the killings and everything," he said.
"Because if big drug lords are actually, say, being killed I won’t be surprised. But when you begin to see poor people being dragged out and being killed, that I have some reservations."