Philippine bishops' conference stands by its positions against death penalty and "war on drugs" after crisis talks with Duterte administration. However, they were open to cooperation against poverty or for peace.
Philippines bishops' conference ready to develop "positive relations" with President Rodrigo Duterte's government. This is true despite "differences," the president of the bishops' conference, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, stressed in a report published Thursday on the bishops' news portal.
"There are points on which we fundamentally disagree," Villegas said. However, these differences should not stand in the way of cooperation on other ies, such as the fight against poverty or the peace process in the conflict region of Mindanao.
Church is among the harshest critics
Archbishop Villegas and other representatives of the bishops' conference had met on 31. The bishops' conference met with unspecified representatives of the Duterte government on March 31 for crisis talks. Both sides would have expressed a desire to soften the tone in the debate over the reintroduction of the death penalty and the "war on drugs". "If they stop with the murders (…), then they can bet on us to bring down our positions, because we would consider that a sign of goodwill," Villegas said.
The church is among the harshest critics of Duterte's "war on drugs". Since the president took office ten months ago, human rights activists say more than 8.000 alleged drug criminals shot dead on open streets. The church also strongly opposes the reintroduction of the death penalty. Duterte has so far responded to the bishops' criticism with savage tirades, including references to "sons of bitches". Duterte also accused bishops and priests of corruption, hypocrisy, greed and sexual misconduct.