KONFRONTASI-Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is entitled to "not to believe in any faith" and express his views, his spokesman has said, addressing criticism following the 73-year-old leader's recent commentary describing God as "stupid" and a "son of a whore".
In an interview on Monday with the Philippine television GMA-7, Harry Roque said the remarks were an expression of the president's "personal belief".
He added that Duterte has his way of expressing his spirituality and what he said "does not need any interpretation".
"He never tried to hide that kind of language when he ran for president. Just accept it that he is that way, because when he asked for a mandate from the voters, he never tried to hide that," said the spokesman.
Roque said that the president's tirade may be rooted on his own "unpleasant" experience with the church.
Duterte has said that as a child he was also a victim of sexual molestation by a Catholic priest.
'What kind of religion is that?'
Duterte was addressing an information technology summit in his hometown of Davao on Friday when his speech veered towards religion and the Bible.
The president, who comes from a Catholic family, questioned the passage on creation in the Bible and the concept of "original sin".
"Adam ate it [fruit from the forbidden tree], then malice was born. Who is this stupid God? You are really a stupid son of a whore if that is the case," Duterte said in Filipino and English.
"You created something perfect, and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work. How can you rationalise a God ... would you believe that?"
He also said that an infant should not have an original sin, as conception and intercourse only involve the parents.
"What kind of religion is that? That's what I can't accept," he said as his audience sat awkwardly.
Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes described Duterte's tirade as "blasphemy".
"It is the height of arrogance of power not only to disrespect and spit on an individual's faith but also to act as though he is a god," Trillanes said in a statement.