MALACAÑANG again came to the defense of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, asserting that his most recent statement about the Catholic Church was just a joke. In his remarks in Cauayan City, Isabela last Nov. 1, All Saints’ Day, Mr. Duterte questioned the celebration saying, “Bakit naman may (Why is there) All Souls’ Day (then), All Saints’ Day. Hindi nga natin alam kung sino ‘yang mga santong sino na mga g*** na ‘yun. Mga lasenggo (We don’t even know who those silly saints are. They are drunkards).” Mr. Duterte went on to say that people should just put their faith in him. “I’ll give you one patron…. Get hold of a picture of mine. ‘Yan ang ilagay niyo sa (Put that on your) altar — Santo Rodrigo.” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo, in a statement released on Saturday night, said, “Actions should be given more weight than the spoken words when one ascertains the true attributes of a person for certainly actions speak louder than words.” He added, “A joke is a joke and the same does not require an explanation. Nor should it be given as a religious slight.” He noted as well that the “strength and credibility of a religious faith that has been there for more than two thousand years and survived wars and internecine cannot be affected by what some deem as an assault by non-believers nor will its faithfuls be offended by any playful jab on its saints.” — Arjay L. Balinbin