MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles, Manila Bureau) – If you can’t lick ’em, welcome them into your fold. This seems to be Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest strategy in dealing with his staunchest critics.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has just been appointed by Duterte as his Secretary of Religion and Morality.
Villegas has been a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, using the Catholic Church’s bully pulpit to incite Filipino Catholics to resist and reject Duterte’s war on drugs, which many lost souls are blaming for the alleged extra-judicial killings.
Just a couple weeks ago, Villegas and the CBCP issued a pastoral letter read in most Catholic Churches throughout the country, calling the government to task for drug-related killings as well as the efforts to reinstate the death penalty in the Philippines.
Malacañang announced Villegas’ appointment during a special mass held in Davao City on Sunday.
In appointing Villegas, Duterte said that “while the Philippine Constitution provides for the separation of Church and State, we might as well include the Church leadership in our team since they like to meddle in government affairs anyway.”Besides, it’s the Catholic thing to do,” the president added.