Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is entitled “not to believe in any faith” and express religious opinions, his spokesman has said, after his outspoken boss described God as “stupid” and a “son of a whore”.
Harry Roque said Duterte was expressing his “personal belief” in a way that “does not need any interpretation”.
“He never tried to hide that kind of language when he ran for president. Just accept it that he is that way, because when he asked for a mandate from the voters, he never tried to hide that,” said Roque.
The spokesman said the 73-year-old leader’s comments were probably influenced by his “unpleasant” religious experiences.
Duterte has said that as a child he was sexually molested by a Catholic priest.
He has repeatedly clashed with the church, taking issue with allegations of corruption and sexual abuse by Catholic priests.
Duterte, who comes from a Catholic family, surprised an information technology summit in Davao, where he was mayor for two decades, when he began to criticise religion and the Bible.
“Adam ate it [the apple] then malice was born. Who is this stupid God? You are really a stupid son of a whore if that is the case,” Duterte said on Friday.
“You created something perfect, and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work.
“How can you rationalise a God … would you believe that?” Duterte asked the tech experts.
On original sin, he asked: “What kind of religion is that? That’s what I can’t accept.”
Senator Antonio Trillanes called the comments blasphemous.
“It is the height of arrogance of power not only to disrespect and spit on an individual’s faith but also to act as though he is a god,” the pious Trillanes said.
Around 79 per cent of the 107 million population identifying themselves as Catholic.
The 13-million-strong United Methodist Church has asked Manila to release three foreign missionaries being held for joining a human rights fact-finding mission on Mindanao.
Tawanda Chandiwana from Mutare in Zimbabwe was arrested on May 8 for allegedly overstaying his visa.
The passports of Adam Shaw of Ohio and Miracle Osman of Malawi were also confiscated.
“We vigorously protest this treatment of our mission personnel,” said Thomas Kemper of the United Methodist Global Ministries.
“It is unconscionable that Tawanda has been held for six weeks… We are respectfully asking that these young people be allowed to leave,” he added.
Their group Karapatan (Rights) has recorded at least 49 victims of summary executions and 22 cases of torture on the war-torn southern island, reportedly at the hands of the authorities.
Most Filipinos are Catholic. Picture credit: PXHere