Duterte makes sexual abuse claims vs. Church

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Tuesday (December 1) criticized Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for supposedly cursing Pope Francis. Duterte hit back, threatening to expose alleged sexual abuse committed by members of the Church.

Duterte, a 2016 presidential aspirant, hinted that he was sexually abused by priests during his years at Ateneo de Davao High School, and said he would expose everything if the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) continued to urge him to withdraw his candidacy.

"Kaming nasa Ateneo noon, and I will tell you the abuses committed against the minors at that time... including me," he said.

[Translation: "When we were at Ateneo before, and I will tell you the abuses committed against the minors at that time... including me."]

Duterte made controversial comments during his speech on Monday about the traffic jam caused by the papal visit early this year.

Villegas reacted to this, saying: "When a revered and loved and admired man like Pope Francis is cursed by a political candidate and the audience laugh, I can only bow my head and grieve in great shame."

"Is this the leadership by example that Mayor Duterte excites in us?" he asked in his official statement.

Related: Duterte under fire for comment on Pope Francis

Duterte claimed his words were taken out of context and that it he never intended to insult the head of the Catholic Church. He added that his complaints were intentionally directed towards the government’s failure to manage the papal visit, which resulted into massive traffic jams throughout the metro.

He said that if Villegas continues to make a big issue out of his statement, he would withdraw his presidential bid.

“’Kung ayaw ninyo yan, wag na ninyong palakihin, Socrates. Kung palakihin mo, e di magwithdraw ako pagka-presidente then you debate with me. And let us trace the history of your church,” he said.

[Translation: "Do not make a big deal out of it, Socrates. If you do, I will withdraw from the presidential race, then you debate with me. Let us trace the history of your church."]