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'Driving away' of priests at Balangiga bells rites being investigated —Palace

Malacañang on Sunday said the alleged incident that some members of the clergy were shooed away during the Bells of Balangiga turnover rites attended by President Rodrigo Duterte "is being probed."

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo in a statement said that the alleged incident is being investigated, saying he was at Saturday's event and did not notice it.

Reports, quoting a priest from Balangiga, indicate that President Duterte told the priests and other Catholic officials to leave during the ceremonial turnover of the historic bells in Balangiga town  in Eastern Samar.

Balangiga Incident by GMA News Online on Scribd

Panelo said, "If it indeed happened, then the same is not authorized and such unethical conduct can not be sanctioned by PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte). It could have been done by someone who represented himself or herself as a staff from the Presidential Management Staff."

"It is absolutely out of the President's character nor his style to cause mortification during an event," he added.

Likewise, he said "This is a time when all Filipinos, regardless of political affinity or religious outlook, come together and rejoice an event which we had long sought and hoped for."

Malacañang "will not allow such unwanted incident to spoil this momentous occasion," Panelo added. —LBG, GMA news