Pope Francis may now be back in Rome, but his five-day visit to the Philippines has left some controversial footprints. President Benigno Aquino III’s speech before the pope last week shocked several Filipinos, who said that Aquino’s remarks against the Catholic clergy, especially in front of its leader, was highly uncalled for.
Social media flared up with negative reactions, and tagged Aquino’s speech as a “sermon”, “embarrassing”, “off”, and “inappropriate”.
Irked netizens also noted how the pontiff’s speech seemed to be more in-depth and responsive to pressing issues when compared with Aquino’s criticisms against church officials, who allegedly “became silent” as the country faced different forms of injustice during Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s presidency.
But, Malacañang quickly came to PNoy’s defense.
On Tuesday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. clarified that it was never the president’s intention to throw personal a*****s, and that the whole speech was backed up with factual evidence, saying, “The speech was a truth-telling statement. If you review the entire text you will understand the context. It was a narrative that was historically accurate and truthful and there was no singling out of any personality. It was a personal testimony of someone who experienced the events he was talking about and became President and became the leader of the country that was welcoming the Pope. It was a truthful statement and there was no other purpose for that statement except to tell the truth.”
During the press briefing, Coloma also acknowledged that although there are certain issues that have always divided the views of the government and the Catholic Church, the Palace has always been open to work on matters they can agree upon, and said, “Ang hinahanap po natin dito ay ‘yung convergence or harmony para magkaroon tayo ng batayan for common ground and for common action. Hindi po magkahalintulad sa lahat ng aspeto ‘yung posisyon ng pamahalaan at ng simbahan at kinikilala din natin ‘yung pagkakaiba. Pero habang may pagkakaiba, puwede namang maumpisahan na ‘yung pagtutulungan, pagbabayanihan batay sa pinagkasunduan at pinagkaisahan.” (“What we’re seeking for is convergence or harmony in order to have a basis for common ground and for common action. The government and the church do not hold the same position for all aspects, and we acknowledge these differences. While there are differences, we can start helping each other, “bayanihan”, based on what has been agreed upon and in unity of.”)
Watch the full speech here: