Duterte skips Pope's Day celebration, sends representatives
President Rodrigo Duterte did not show up in the celebration of Pope's Day on Friday at the residence of Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Vatican's representative to the Philippines.
Instead, Duterte was represented by the three of the four-man committee that he formed to hold dialogue with various religious groups.
Duterte attended a festival in Tacloban City and visited the wake of the policemen who were killed and those wounded in a misencounter with Army troopers in Samar.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a text message to reporters said he, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella and Pastor Boy Saycon were sent by Duterte to attend the Pope's Day celebration at the Apostolic Nunciature in Malate.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., a member of the committee, did not join because he was sick, he said.
The Papal Nuncio invited Duterte in the Pope's Day celebration in the wake of the president's verbal attack to God and the Catholic Church.
Duterte, in a speech in Tacloban, reiterated that he just "shook the tree" with his remark against God.
Duterte in his previous speeches called God "stupid," earning the ire of some Christians, including the Catholics.
"Do not believe in the stories around my persona because I'm really like that. Once in a while, I shake the tree. Just to shake it that you know, so that society can more or less see the truth of what is really behind our story as a Filipino people," he said.
In the same speech, Duterte said the misencounter between the police and the soldiers was "a very unfortunate event" and he was taking "ultimate blame or fault" being their commander-in-chief.
"But since you are all my soldiers, let us forget the hurts, allow the investigation to go on, and let us see what develops in the future," he added.
Six policemen were killed and nine others were wounded in a clash with the soldiers last Monday at Barangay San Roque, Sta. Rita town in Samar after they mistook each other as communist rebels. Celerina Monte/DMS