Archbishop Arturo Valles, newly elected president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Phils (CBCP) admits being personal friends with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte since the latter was still the mayor of Davao City.
Valles who has been the archbishop of Davao is viewed by some sectors to be the right leader of the Catholic bishops group since his friendship with the President might improve the relation between the Catholic Church and the President.
The CBCP president who hails from Maribojoc, Bohol was the church leader who once advised the President to not only stop using cuss words in his speeches but also to pray the rosary everyday for atonement.
Archbishop Valles, during a phone interview with the Chronicle last Monday clarified that it was the President himself who told the media of his advice given to Mr. Duterte during one of his visits to the Archdiocese of Davao when he was still the Davao city mayor. He did not divulge to the media any detail of their personal conversation with then Mayor Duterte.
In an August 2016 interview, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz had expressed apprehension over the idea of having Valles as CBCP president, saying he is “rather close” to Duterte as they are both from Davao City. “The closeness has nothing to do with what is right or wrong. It will have a relevance on how CBCP will look at the overall value of the actuation of the President of the Republic,” Cruz told ANC last year.
“Being based in Davao, then the incoming CBCP president, will definitely be more one with him than otherwise,” he added. Valles will be assuming the helm of the CBCP at a time when the church and the administration has taken opposing sides on critical issues, among them Duterte’s fierce war on drugs and moves to revive the death penalty.
Outgoing CBCP President Villegas has been very vocal against these programs.
Just this February, the CBCP issued a pastoral letter that said the government’s war on drugs has caused a “reign of terror” among Filipinos.