At least three Filipino Catholic Bishops have welcomed President Duterte’s recent wish to develop a good relationship with the church leaders in the country. President Duterte conveyed that he would like to develop good rapport with the Church and its leaders, a statement which is in contrast to his oft-repeated tirades against priests and bishops who criticize his war against drugs, while paying his last respect to His Eminence Cardinal Emeritus Ricardo Vidal, who passed away on October 18, due to complications from pneumonia.

As reported by Vatican radio, His Excellency Bishop Teodoro Bacani, retired Bishop of Novaliches expressed his happiness over Duterte’s wish and remarked that “It was a good start but the President must listen to God’s word and respect every human life and treat all with dignity.” His Grace Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamiz noted that “This would create a good impact on his image (Duterte), however good relationship among the leaders is obligatory for a country’s progress.” His Excellency Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said emphasized that “The president’s peace proposal did not mean that they will have to give up their role as prophets, all people and the government officials have to respect the rights of God, of man and of nature.”

According to government statistics, there have been close to 12,000 deaths since the president’s war against narcotics was launched last year, a move the church leaders have condemned forthright.