President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed not to talk about the Catholic Church after his one-on-one meeting with Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Romulo Valles on Monday, according to Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque.
“PRRD agreed to a moratorium on statements about the church after the meeting. It was a one-on-one meeting,” Roque said in a text message to Palace reporters.
Roque said the closed door meeting between Duterte and Valles took place at 4 p.m. before the President presided over the Cabinet meeting.
“At the beginning of the Cabinet meeting, he (the President) said he told Archbishop Valles, Archbishop Valles is his friend,and he said ‘bahala ka na Archbishop’ (It’s now up to you Archbishop),” Roque said in a media interview.
Pressed for clarification on “bahala ka na”, Roque replied: “He just said he will no longer talk about the church after that one-on-one”.
Meanwhile, Roque described as “very tame” the pastoral letter that CBCP has issued about a number of issues plaguing the country.
“I thought it was very tame. I was expecting the worst, it was a very tame pastoral letter, I thought,” Roque said.
Roque believes the Church is avoiding “outright confrontation” when it issued the pastoral letter on Monday through the CBCP.
“So, it’s nothing new. There was no outright condemnation. So I thought the Church was avoiding an outright confrontation with this pastoral letter,” he said.
Roque said he expected a better relationship, not only between the Duterte administration and the Church but with everyone after Duterte made it clear that he will step down once the Federal Constitution is adopted by 2019.
“I expect better relationship with everyone now that the President has made it clear that he wants to step down in 2019 after adoption of the Federal Constitution,” Roque said.
“It includes the Church because the Church knows that as soon as there is a transition to a federal government, he will not stay up to 2022,” he added.
Roque said the President has instructed the Consultative Committee (ConCom) to include in the new Constitution a provision that a transitory leader would be elected by the people.
“Because before the President said he can serve as transition leader up to 2022, but a while ago he announced that he wanted to have a provision that would elect transition leader and that he is ready to step down if the new Constitution will be approved,” Roque told the media.
He said Duterte wanted to erase suspicion that he has hidden agenda for pushing Charter change that would give way to a shift of government to federalism.
“Secondly, he said he was very tired. He is old and perhaps this electing a transition leader would enable a young leader to take over,” Roque said. (PNA)