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Duterte to priests: ‘Wala akong pakialam kung mamatay kayo lahat'

President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he couldn’t care less if the priests critical of him and his government ended up getting killed.

Duterte issued the remark just weeks after he called on the public to spare the religious leaders from harassment after Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle bared supposed death threats received by some priests and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, a critic of the drug war, from people claiming to be working for the Duterte family.

“[T]hey tried to picture me na ‘pag namatay sila...I should be blamed because of my outburst. The hell. Wala akong pakialam kung mamatay kayo ngayon lahat. Maluwang pa ang ating cemetery,” the President said during the National Peace and Order Council meeting in Davao City.

“Stop scaring people about your holiness. Do not scare me about you dying and getting me blamed.”

Duterte also brought up anew his allegations about priests who were involved in sexual abuses and illegal drugs.

Some priests on Monday presented threatening text messages they have received and video showing the suspicious activity of certain individuals outside their homes.

The threats were sent amid Duterte’s relentless attacks against the Catholic Church and its priests, who openly opposed his campaign against illegal drugs, in which thousands of Filipinos have died.

Duterte's vicious rhetoric against Catholic priests and the Church includes saying that bishops should be robbed and killed, a comment he has made several times.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo dismissed the threats as coming from pranksters, anti-Duterte trolls or personal enemies of the priests.

The Palace official also urged the priests to prove their claims and report the matter to the authorities. — BAP, GMA News