- The President said the Itogon landslide would have been prevented if the local priest was replaced
- Roque explained the President was not serious in making the latest tirade against the Church and the clergy
- Duterte promised to visit the area on Monday
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang Palace has defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial remarks where he was quoted as blaming the parish priest in the deadly Itogon landslide that claimed the lives of dozens of people.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Duterte was not serious in blaming the occurrence of the landslide to the local priest in what appears to be the president’s latest tirade against the Catholic Church and the clergy.
“Ang tingin ko naman po hindi seryoso ang Presidente [I think the President was not serious]. Let us not always take his word seriously,” said Roque on Monday.
In a press briefing on Sunday, Duterte said the disaster in Itogon would not have occurred if the priest there was replaced.
“There is an evolving story sa [in] Itogon, Barangay Ucab… 43 persons doon, nag-collapse ‘yung church [43 persons died, the church collapsed],” Duterte said.
“Alam mo sir, sa totoo lang, kung pinalitan ninyo ’yung pari diyan, hindi magbagsak ’yang simbahan na ’yan,” he added. [You know sir, the truth is, if you replaced the priest there, the church would not have collapsed]
Duterte went on with his remarks by cursing at the clergy; calling the latter ‘stupid’ and SOB. His remarks drew laughter from the audience.
Nevertheless, the President promised to visit the area on Monday to personally see the ongoing search and rescue operation, as well as assess the extent of the damage of the landslide.