The president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has asked voters to judge for themselves whether or not Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is good for the country as its president.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas posted on his Facebook the video of Duterte's controversial remarks on the rape and death in 1989 of an Australian missionary Jaqueline Hamill, with the caption: "Judge for yourself if this is the right choice. I will keep my personal judgment to myself. This video can help...."
In the video, Duterte recounted the 1989 Davao City prison riot, in which five visiting missionaries were killed. Among those killed was Hamill, who was also raped by inmates.
Duterte was heard saying, "P-- ina, sayang. Ang napasok sa isip ko, ni-rape nila, pinagpilahan nila lahat doon."
He added, "Nagalit ako kasi ni-rape? Oo. Isa rin 'yun. Pero napakaganda, dapat mayor muna ang nauna. Sayang."
The mayor has since apologized for his statement, though he earlier explained that his remark was just an expression of anger over the crime.
While the Catholic Church has refrained from endorsing candidates, Villegas had called on voters to pray and discern carefully about their choice for the May 9 elections.
His appeal was echoed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle who called on the Catholic faithful to "avoid cultures with widespread acceptance but incompatible to Christian values."
For Villegas, politicians should be role models for the people.
"It is the duty of our government officials to act and talk and live honorably and for the President of the Republic to excel in professionalism and service, to be excellent in character and competence, to be excellent role models for the youth and to be the prime example for all public servants," he said.
Duterte, for his part, has asked Catholic bishops to take it slow in passing judgment on him.
"I thought all the while I was doing my duties for humanity. And now they're castigating me for my mouth?" Duterte said.
"If you obey CBCP, fine. But understand my language," he added.
Duterte also reminded the CBCP that he is not a thief.
"I am asking the Catholics to carefully examine this...but what I am saying is, in spite and despite of my mouth, I will give you a clean government," he said. —Xianne Arcangel and Trisha Macas/NB, GMA News