By Rodolfo Andal
MALACAÑANG on Thursday welcomed the recent statement of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urging Filipino Catholics to respect the views of other religions or those who do not share the beliefs of the Catholic Church.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. in a press briefing reiterated the Palace’s stand that even President Rodrigo Roa Duterte should be afforded the same religious freedom that he allows all Filipinos to enjoy.
“Alam naman po natin na magkakaiba ang ating paniniwala kaya sana naman respetuhin natin ang pagkakaiba na ito,” Roque stressed.
“Nanawagan na po ang Pangulo ng isang diyalogo sa Simbahan at ito na po ang ating ginagawa… Mag-usap-usap tayo para sa Diyos at sa bayan,” he added.
Roque then announced the designation of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. as the fourth member of the recently created Presidential committee tasked to hold dialogues with different churches in the country.
“I suppose his contribution is because he is an ex-priest himself and he is familiar with the dogma of the Catholic Church,” said Roque, who leads the four-man team.
The Spokesperson said the end goal of the Duterte administration in conducting talks with the Church is to foster better cooperation between the two institutions, particularly on their shared drive against corruption, illegal drugs, and poverty.
“The President really expected better working relations with the Catholic Church. He is against divorce, he is against abortion, he is against same-sex marriage. They seem to agree on what used to be contentious issues between [the Church] and the state,” Roque noted.
“We are still looking forward to this kind of cooperation,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet official rejected claims that religious groups are undertaking destabilization plots against the President.
“In the first place, kampante po ang Presidente sa kanyang pananampalataya. Kampante ang Simbahan sa kanilang misyon sa bayang ito. Ang ninanais lang natin, ‘yung dalawang institusyon ay makapagsilbi nang mas mabuti para sa ating lipunan,” Roque stressed.
Palace open to probe on “anti-tambay” drive
During the same press briefing, Malacañang welcomed proposals pushing for a congressional investigation into the administration’s anti-“tambay” crackdown.
“Lahat naman po ng imbestigasyon ay katungkulan ‘yan ng Kongreso… lalung lalo na kung sila po ay bubuo ng batas para lalong mas mapabuti ang implementasyon ng ninanais makamit ng ating Presidente,” Secretary Roque stated.
He said the Palace also welcomes any challenges to the “anti-tambay” drive before the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, Roque clarified that the President’s latest directive does not seek to criminalize vagrancy.
He said it merely aims to strengthen the implementation of existing laws and ordinances that promote peace and order in the communities.
“We are not criminalizing vagrancy. We are implementing the laws and ordinances and it is a form of higher police visibility intended to act as deterrent towards the commission of crimes,” the Secretary said.