Controversial Davao city Mayor Rodrigo Duterte nearly committed a terrible mistake by picking up a big and meshy fight with the Philippines’ influential Catholic church.

This morning, he apologized to the Catholic church for cursing Pope Francis on Nov. 30 in a public speech for causing massive traffic jams in Manila during the pontiff’s visit to the Philippines in January this year.

However, both sides have already traded quick punches against each other before Duterte issued his apology — after presumably being warned by his advisers that a bitter war against the Catholic church could mean a quick end to his presidential ambition.

Responding to Duterte’s unwarranted attack on the Pope, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the most senior leader of the Catholic church in the Philippines, issued a statement denouncing the Davao city mayor’s disparaging remarks toward the Pope and questioning his credentials and fitness to become the next president of the country. His statement that was widely disseminated by the media can be read in this web link —

Villegas is currently president of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBC P). Retired archbishop and former CBCP president Oscar Cruz also denounced Duterte and described him as “dangerous” to have as the country’s next leader. He added the country has already seen and experienced what it was like to live under a dictator and he wondered if Filipinos will want to live under another dictatorship — in apparent reference to Duterte.

Stung by quick tirades from Catholic church leaders, Duterte slammed Catholic church leaders for keeping quiet and failing to take actions against priests and other members of the church who have sexually abused minors or had children out of wedlock from parishioners. Duterte also threatened to reveal the name of a member of the religious who allegedly abused him sexually, together with other boys, while he was studying at Ateneo de Davao.

Until last night, Duterte was gearing up for a big war with the Catholic church, attacking the latter for deviant sexual abuses of some of its members — easily one of the weakest and most sensitive spots that the  Catholic church always avoids like a plague.

But in a dramatic retreat, Duterte issued an apology to the Catholic church this morning. Presumably, his closest advisers must have warned him that declaring war with the Catholic church will sink his ambition to become the next president of the country.

Duterte will never win the presidency if he picks up a big fight against the Catholic church — even if the Catholics won’t provide a bloc vote unlike the Iglesia ni Cristo religious group.

But realities are realities. There’s no changing quickly and significantly certain realities in the Philippines — and aspiring politicians like Duterte and his rivals in the presidential race should recognize this.

With about 80 per cent of the country’s 100 million population comprised of Catholics and Catholic leaders now openly speaking out against the “evils” of Duterte’s brand of leadership, his feud with the church must have inflicted significant damage to his presidential bid. Outpouring of support for the Pope and denunciations of Duterte in the traditional and social media will bear this out.

Even in the remotest villages across the country’s, there’s an army of Catholic priests and pastors who provide services to the poorest of the poor. Pastoral letters from the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, denouncing the “evils” of a Duterte national leadership will certainly damage his ambition to become the next president. This extensive national network of churches and chapels and an army of priests and civilian volunteers are vital elements that Duterte and his vice presidential running mate, Peter Cayetano, do not have.

Catholic church leaders and priests openly speaking out against a Duterte presidency will serve as the single biggest nemesis of the feisty Davao city mayor — more than the competition posed by presidential rivals Jojo Binay, Grace Poe and Mar Roxas.

Will Duterte’s apology repair completely his relations with leaders of the Catholic church? It looks unlikely. The damage has already been done. He can no longer take back his punches at the Catholic church.

Duterte has already shown to everyone that he can and will attack anyone even without the slightest provocation or any justifiable or valid reason. His choice of language — often marked by expletives — and his mercurial frame of mind — coupled with revelations that his claims to law and order and governance success in Davao city may not be rock solid — now raise big questions on whether or not he is the best choice for the next president.





  1. the catholic is going deeply in politics am happy when this groups address their own flaws sobra ang pagka hipocrito ng mga obispo at mga paring ito..hinde nga kayo nag mumura dahil sinasabi ninyong masama pero sa kabila ng pagkasanto ninyo ay diyablo pala ang utak ninyo wagas kayo kong maka husga paano kayo mapatawag kong kayo mismo ay ayaw magpatawad….the catholic will surely in the wrong way…ang ginagawa ninyo ay siyang sinasabi sa bibliya na hinde dapat gawin….Jesus said.. I AM THE WAY, AND THE LIFE, AND THE TRUTH NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH salitang ito ng panginoong Jesus ay napakalinawa…hinde na kailangan ang magkaroon ka ng masters degree or PhD para maintindihan ang gusto niya.. Sorry po kong merong masaktan..

    • Ephraim, kung tingin mo ay diyablo ang utak ko e ang tingin ko naman sa utak mo ay taho, patis at toyo ang laman! he he he…. Dapat mong gawin mo e magbasa ka ng husto at makinig ng mga matinong balita at hindi lang posts sa Facebook lang atupagin mo! Para yang utak mong maliit at makitid ay lumawak ang pananaw. Hindi ka kasi kumain ng isang drum na Star margarine e! Pulpol tuloy ang pag iisip mo!! ha ha ha Tanungin kita — Kung makita mo ang anak mong teen ager na babae ay merong best friend na sanay magmura, mahilig sa away o violence, walang respeto sa nakakatanda at hindi tapat sa kanyang salita dahil sinungaling, hindi mo ba pangangaralan at bibigyan ng warning ang anak mong teen ager? Matapos mong pag-aralan ng husto ang pananalita, kilos at ugali ng best friend ng anak mo, hindi ba’t kailangan mong magdesisyon na husgahan ang kanyang pagkatao at sabihan ang anak mo? Mapapatawad mo ba ang best friend ng anak mo kung maging drug addict ang anak mo o kung mabuntis siya ng walang ama — dahil ayaw mong maghusga at ok lang sa yo na patawarin ang best friend ng anak mo kung nakita mo ng hindi matino ang utak nito? Isipin mo ng malinaw ang mga sagot sa mga tanong ko. Ganyan sa tingin ko at paniwala ko si Duterte — parang best friend ng anak mo pero masamang impluwensiya pala. Ang ginagawa ko ay nagbibigay lang ako ng warning sa mga kapwa ko Pilipino.

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