MANILA, Philippines – If Pope Francis only saw Senator Leila de Lima’s “video,” he might change his mind about the lady senator.
This was Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s joke on Tuesday, November 28, when, during an anti-corruption summit, he commented on how the religious leader gave his fiercest critic a rosary.
“Tapos ‘yung isa, ‘yung hambog binigyan pa ng rosary ni Pope. Eto si Pope naman (Then one of them, the arrogant one, was even given a rosary by the Pope. Oh Pope),” said Duterte at the Philippine International Convention Center.
“Kaya sabi ko, hanapan mo nga ako ng video, ipakita ko kay Pope. Baka magtingin pa si Pope mag-alis pa sa pagka-Pope ‘yan,” he added, eliciting some laughter from his audience.
(So said, look for that video, I’ll show it to Pope. If he sees it, he might decide to stop being Pope.)
Duterte did not elaborate on the video he was referring to, but he had long claimed the existence of a “sex video” supposedly of De Lima – and her former driver, Ronnie Dayan. Early in his term the President would even refer to an "X-rated actress" in some of his speeches, apparently referring to De Lima.
Another clue in Duterte’s speech on Tuesday indicated he was referring to the sex video, which De Lima had repeatedly denied.
“Prisoner of conscience, prisoner of conscience – libog ‘yan tapos prisoner of conscience (She is guilty of lust and you call her a prisoner of conscience)?” said Duterte.
After referring to the sex video, Duterte stressed that he was only joking about showing it to Pope. But he warned that he would use his right to freedom of expression to criticize the Pope.
“I am joking, Pope, but whenever you do a thing that’s open to – if you criticize me, I can criticize you 10 times over,” said Duterte.
The President has gotten into trouble for previous remarks about the Pope. In the early part of his presidential campaign, he was widely criticized for cursing the Pope for the traffic during his last visit to the Philippines.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.