Philippines’ Duterte Eager to Work with Vatican on Immigration, Climate

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pushes a China-led free trade plan
AFP/NOEL CELIS

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he is eager to work with the Vatican on shared concerns like combatting climate action and protecting migrants.

“I look forward to working closely with the Holy See to further advance our shared advocacies on migrants’ protection and climate action for the Philippines,” President Duterte said during the virtual presentation of credentials ceremony of Archbishop Charles Brown, the Vatican’s new Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.

“These are issues which are a matter of uplifting human dignity and securing the lives of the most disadvantaged,” Duterte added.

“There are estimated 10 million Filipinos overseas with close to 3,500 in the Vatican City,” he said. “The Holy See’s call for all countries to protect the dignity of human life including of migrants regardless of status is much appreciated.”

“We appreciate Pope Francis’ expression of solidarity and prayers for the Filipino people who were affected by the typhoon Ulysses,” he added.

In late September, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Brown, an American, as his new ambassador to the Philippines. Prior to his nomination, Brown was apostolic nuncio to Albania and before that served in the same role in Ireland.

Brown’s most urgent task will be presenting candidates to replace Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the former archbishop of Manila, whom Francis brought to Rome in late 2019 as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

On Monday, Brown, who now represents the pope and the Holy See, went to Malacañang Palace to present his credentials but did not meet president Duterte in person because of health measures intended to curb the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Since assuming office in 2016, Duterte has had a rocky relationship with the Catholic Church in the Philippines, sparring over issues such as his bloody war against illegal drugs.

Next year, the Vatican and Manila will celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations, as well as the fifth centennial of Christianity in the country.

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