MALACANANG said President Rodrigo Duterte’s statements about saints were said in jest and were not meant to offend Catholics.
This, after Duterte made a mockery of the Catholic tradition of honoring saints, saying they are “gago” (fools) and “lasenggo” (drunk).
Duterte made the remarks Thursday, All Saints’ Day.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it was clear that reporters covering the event, and even the audience, knew the President was just joking, contrary to what critics were saying.
“The reporters covering the event and the audience (mostly if not all, were Catholics) before whom the utterances were made knew that the President was only making light of a serious situation briefing on the damage wrought by Typhoon Rosita,” Panelo said.
“And the fact that they burst into laughter (as shown by the video clips of the TV news) showed that they were not offended by what the good Bishop and a few critics perceived to be an offensive religious statement against the celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
“Hence, PRRD’s remarks should not be viewed beyond the description of the reporters covering the event. A joke is a joke and the same does not require an explanation. Nor should it be taken as a religious slight,” Panelo added.
Duterte made the controversial remarks on the same day he issued his message for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day wherein he urged Filipinos to “emulate our saints.”
The President has repeatedly courted outrage from Catholics and their leaders with his jokes and attacks against the Church.
Earlier this year, he called God “stupid” and questioned several Catholic beliefs, such as the one on creation and the concept of heaven and hell.