>> It's used it's hefty political power to unseat two previous leaders. But several figures from within the Philippines Catholic church say they don't know how to handle Rodrigo Dutarte. Priests have been speaking to Reuters saying they're unsure whether to criticize the thousands of drug related killings in a popular and bloody crackdown led by the president.
Reuters' Clare Baldwin co-led the investigation.>> The fear is that basically anybody can be killed. Some of the priests mentioned that they were concerned that if they criticize the war on drugs and criticize this campaign, they would also become targets. Some of the priests that we talked to also mentioned that priests are offering asylum to some people that are fearing for their lives.
And one priest was concerned that any details describing how he had done this could make him a target as well. There were also some priests that said that they supported the war on drugs, and that while people were being killed, there were also a lot of people being helped.
>> The Philippines is a major Catholic country. Four out of five people belong to the church. But there have been gradual signs that its power is waning, and there may be little hope of reversing that trend under Dutarte.>> Dutarte has a complicated relationship with the church. He said that he was abused by a priest as a boy.
He has questioned whether the church still has relevance in the Philippines. And he said that when he was elected in May, it could be perceived as a referendum between him and the church. He's also cursed the pope.>> Dutarte's political allies say there's no reason to even imp;y that clergy members could be targeted in the war on drugs.
But they do have a message for the church. The president's policies have massive public support and no preist should presume that their views will represent those of the people.