MANILA - Malacañang said it is investigating reports that some clergymen were told by the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) to leave the Balangiga town plaza before the turnover of three war trophy bells.
In a statement Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the PMS was not authorized to ask the priests to leave.
"It is absolutely out of the President's character nor his style to cause mortifications during an event. If it indeed happened, then the same is not authorized and such unethical conduct can not be sanctioned by PRRD," he said.
Panelo said the incident could be the doing of someone who just introduced himself to the clergy men as a member of the Presidential staff.
The Palace official, who was present during the event, added that he did not see any commotion nor heard any complaints from the Apostolic Nuncio when he was there.
"We will not allow such a reported unwanted incident to spoil this momentous occasion. The tolling of the Balangiga Bells ushers in a call of unity and peace among us Filipinos. We can only respond in heartfelt approbation," Panelo said.
Fr. Edmel Raagas earlier alleged that Borongan Bishop Crispin Barrete Varquez and Apostolic Nuncio Gabriele Giordano Caccia were told to leave by the PMS before Duterte arrived for the turnover rites.
But Christopher "Bong" Go, former special assistant to the president, denied the allegation, saying Duterte even shook hands with priests, Varquez and Caccia before he took to the stage.