Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte—who is set to begin his six-year term on Thursday, June 30—has pledged to promote contraception, just a month after downplaying reports that he would pursue an aggressive family planning programme, the Catholic Herald reports.
Speaking in Davao City on Monday, the tough-talking incoming leader vowed to oppose the Roman Catholic Church's stand on the issue, saying that three children should be the maximum number for families.
"I will reinstall the programme of family planning. Three's enough," Duterte said. "I am a Christian, but I am a realist and we have to do something about our population," he added.
Last month, Duterte was quoted as saying: "I cannot force the people to follow. We are just suggesting that you are in good hands if you just limit the number of your children."
As mayor of Davao City, Duterte vigorously promoted birth control and even paid men to undergo sterilisation.
In his speech, Duterte—who claims to be a Christian—also declared, "I believe in one god Allah. Period," the Philippine Star reports. Allah is the name of the god worshipped by Muslims.
He also made fun of the practices of the Roman Catholic Church, joking about the Catholic practice of venerating saints.
Duterte recalled that when he was a child, his mother would punish him by asking him to kneel before an altar inside a Catholic church.
"I told Jesus, help me. He said I can't help a naughty boy," he said in jest.
He said in the Catholic faith, there are about 5,000 saints to choose from.
"You choose your saint: San Tiago, Santo Isabelo, Santo Roman, Santilmo, Santo Rodrigo," the incoming president said, drawing laughs from the audience.
"St. Peter himself loves cockfighting," he said once again in jest, referring to the apostle whose symbol in art is the rooster.
Duterte also warned members of crime syndicates: "If you resist, show violent resistance, my order to police (will be) to shoot to kill. Shoot to kill for organised crime. You heard that? Shoot to kill for every organised crime."
Duterte has also clashed with the country's bishops over his manner of speech and the death penalty, which Duterte wants to reintroduce.
Some Filipino bishops have been vocal in their opposition to Duterte's declared policies. Archbishop Ramón Cabrera Argüelles of Lipa, for instance, has vowed to volunteer to die in place of those condemned to the death penalty.
Mgr. Oliver Mendoza, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Lingayen, whose archbishop is the president of the bishops' conference, has said the Church would speak out against policies which contradicted Catholic teaching: "Because if we fail to do that, if we close our eyes, if we close our lips, we close our ears, what will be the role of the Church?"