Panelo on Duterte's 'kill bishop' remark: He wants to kill them with kindness 

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The President was only making a hyperbolic statement against his critics, his spokesperson says.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 6) — President Rodrigo Duterte was responding to critics with good intentions when he told the public to "kill" bishops, his spokesperson said Thursday.  

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo defended the President and shrugged off concerns of possibly inciting violence against Church officials. He said the President was only making an exaggerated statement that should not be taken seriously. 

"I think that's only a hyperbole on the part of the President. We should be getting used to it. He makes certain statements for dramatic effect but he actually means stop criticizing and do some good for the country. Help us," he told the media.  

Panelo also cited his wife's comment on the issue saying the President meant "to kill them with kindness."  

The spokesperson explained that the President was only frustrated because the Church continues to criticize the government without offering concrete suggestions to address issues, thus branding them as useless and hypocritical.  

"The President, just like any ordinary human being, is upset when the good things that he does for this country is not even appreciated by people who are supposed to support him like the Church," he said. 

"When priests give us teachings of God and yet they do the opposite, so that makes them hypocritical," Panelo added.  

He said Duterte is using his experience of sexual harassment during his younger years as basis for this pronouncement.  

"It means there are members of the Church who are doing the opposite things of what they preach to us that's why the President has basis. He has been a victim of sexual harassment when he was a young boy, again, that is a basis," he said. 

Duterte also said 90 percent of priests were gay, and asked about the basis for this pronouncement, Panelo said he has yet to clarify this with the President. 

The Catholic Church in the country has continued to be vocal against the administration's anti-drug campaign over alleged extrajudicial killings. Bishops, however, are mum on Duterte's recent remarks against them.  

Panelo also argued that even the Pope, through his recent statements, supports the government's efforts to curb drug addiction.  

"Even the Pope says all the countries should fight drug addiction drug syndicates, even the Pope is supporting it now," Panelo said.  

Pope Francis earlier called for solidarity against drug addiction and drug syndicates during a conference on the issue.  

"All of us are called to combat the production, processing and distribution of drugs worldwide," he said Saturday.  

Duterte has hurled strong words against the Church. In June, he drew flak for calling God "stupid." Another recent statement called for Catholics to stop going to church and called church teachings as "archaic." 

READ: Duterte to Catholics: You don't have to go to church to pay for 'idiots'

Keeping mum

In a Facebook post, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said the Church had faced a number of persecutions in the past. And in those moments, he noted Church officials will always respond the way Jesus would-by loving enemies and doing good to those who hate.

 

David was thrust into the spotlight with his public reactions on the President's controversial statements. The bishop previously slammed Duterte's allegations that bishops were stealing and "asking for contributions."

READ: Bishop belies Duterte's 'stealing' charge: Sick people don't know what they're saying

In November, the country's chief executive also insinuated David's possible involvement in illegal drugs-an allegation the bishop was quick to deny.

Meanwhile, in a text message to CNN Philippines, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) spokesman Fr. Jerome Secillano said the group would rather not comment on the issue to avoid further complications.

"We've no comments. We do not want to add fuel to the fire. Our comments may just exacerbate the matter," he said.

 

Duterte has hurled strong words against the Church. In June, he drew flak for calling God "stupid." Another recent statement called for Catholics to stop going to church and called church teachings as "archaic."