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Andanar denies clergymen asked to leave Balangiga bells’ turnover

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By Prince Golez

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar has denied that bishops and priests were told to leave the turnover ceremony of the Balangiga bells on Saturday.

“Wala naman akong nakita. Ang nakita ko lang ay pagpasok ni Presidente doon sa gymnasium, kinumusta niya ang kanyang mga Gabinete tapos ‘yung kanyang mga officers sa Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Andanar said in a Super Radyo dzBB interview Sunday.

The secretary said Duterte even shook hands with Catholic church officials before the handover of the three Balangiga bells.

“Kinumusta niya ang mga pari at ‘yung bishop (Archbishop Romulo Valles), taga-Davao ‘di ba? Tapos ‘yung Papal Nuncio, tapos ‘yung isang reverend representing the United States Military,” added Andanar.

A post by the Diocese of Borongan on Facebook claimed that the Archbishop of the Military Ordinariate of the United States and the Apostolic Nuncio were told by presidential staff to “go out of the Balangiga plaza” before Duterte’s arrival for the turnover ceremony.

“Duterte only wants Archbp. Valles to be in the area. There was even the suggestion to the priests present to remove their Roman collars so as not to offend the President. Also, chairs were placed in front of the priests to cover them,” the post read.

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