Palace on Duterte's remarks vs saints: He's just joking
Malacanang has defended President Rodrigo Duterte over his remarks against the Catholic saints, saying he only made a joke to lighten the serious briefing in Isabela province last Thursday after the onslaught of Typhoon "Rosita."
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said even the reporters and audience present during the briefing were not offended after Duterte called the saints as “drunkards” and “stupid”.
"The reporters covering the event and the audience (mostly if not all, were Catholics) before whom the utterances were made knew that the President was only making light of a serious situation briefing on the damage wrought by Typhoon Rosita," Panelo said in a statement.
"The fact that they burst into laughter (as shown by the video clips of the TV news) showed that they were not offended by what the good Bishop and a few critics perceived to be an offensive religious statement against the celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day," he added.
He said the remarks should not be viewed beyond the description of the reporters covering the event.
"A joke is a joke and the same does not require an explanation. Nor should it be given as a religious slight," he added.
"The strength and credibility of a religious faith that has been there for more than two thousand years and survived wars and internecine cannot be affected by what some deem as an assault by non-believers nor will its faithfuls be offended by any playful jab on its saints," Panelo said.
During his briefing in Isabela after Typhoon Rosita slammed northern Luzon, Duterte questioned the Catholic practice of observing All Saints’ Day and All Souls' Day when they did not even know who were the saints, whom he described as being stupid and drunkards.
Duterte also said that Filipinos should just get hold of his picture and put it on the altar since he was “Santo Rodrigo."
But some quarters, including a Cebu prelate, criticized Duterte for his remarks. Ella Dionisio/DMS