PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte, who has professed belief in God but not in institutional religion and has repeatedly lashed at the Catholic church, received prayers from both friends and foe on his 74th birthday on March 28.
Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary C. Alejano, a staunch critic of Mr. Duterte, said his birthday wish for the President was for him to personally encounter God and unite the Filipino people.
“I pray that as a leader, may he be a figure that will unify and unite the people instead of dividing them. I wish and hope that he channel all his energy, all his strength, all his anger in upholding our country’s sovereignty and protecting us from those who threaten our democracy and liberty. Lastly, may he personally encounter God and accept Him in his life, and together may they lead our nation towards peace and development,” the opposition lawmaker said in a statement on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo, meanwhile, said in a statement, “As Mayor Duterte celebrates his 74th birthday, we pray the Almighty to continue giving him a sound mind and a healthy body, that he may finish the goals he had set for the betterment of the country and people that he loved so well towards a future of progress and prosperity.”
Mr. Duterte, a longtime mayor of Davao City before getting elected to the country’s top post, celebrated his birthday at his hometown, where he expressed a wish for the Philippines not to get involved in the “mess” of other countries.
“My wish [is] that this government would prosper… ‘Wag sana tayong sumali sa (I hope we don’t get involved in)… It’s a very topsy-turvy world… pati ‘yung mga (including the) Chinese,” Mr. Duterte said in a video taken by Wena Valenzona, project manager of the Matina Enclaves in Davao City, where he held a surprise party for his staff on Wednesday night.
The video was forwarded to the Malacañang Press Corps the following day.
“My wish is that we will just continue to be a progressive and prosperous [nation]. ‘Di tayo kasalo diyan sa mga gulo-gulo sa ibang bayan (We should not get involved in the mess in other countries),” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin