MANILA- An official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged local Church leaders Friday to observe prudence in dealing with President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP's public affairs committee, warned that engaging the President in a word war might worsen the situation instead of solving it.
"Ang kailangan dito ay maging prudent tayo sa mga pananalita natin at maging prudent tayo sa mga hakbang natin," Secillano told radio DZMM.
(What we need here is to exercise prudence in our words and actions.)
"Eh baka naman kasi kapag pinatulan natin ito eh hindi na ito matatapos," he added.
(If we engage him in a word war, it might not end.)
Secillano's comments come after the President's latest rant to "kill useless bishops."
“Itong mga obispo ninyo, patayin ninyo. Walang silbi iyang mga gagong iyan. (Kill your bishops. They have no use.) All they do is criticize,” Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang last Wednesday.
The President recently stepped up his verbal attacks against Catholic prelates, especially against Caloocan Bishop Pablo David, one of his most ardent critics.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has also been urged to speak up to Duterte following the latter's recent remark.
Acknowledging that Duterte is a popular leader, Secillano said it is important to strike a balance in dealing with differences.
"Binabalanse din natin kasi napakahirap na tuwing may patutsada yung isa eh magsasalita ka din," he said.
(We're also striking a balance because it's difficult to keep on going back and forth over an issue.)
Malacañang earlier said President Duterte was just employing “hyperbole” when he said that bishops should be killed for being “useless.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President merely wants his critics in the Catholic Church to “stop criticizing, do something good.”
Several priests have been killed by unknown assailants since Duterte became president.
The President often criticizes teachings of the Vatican, and members of the Church hierarchy.
Malacañang had formed a team to hold a dialogue with the Catholic Church, but it remains unclear what progress was achieved by the talks.