VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte touts false claim that Tagle was kicked out of Manila post

Read this fact check in Filipino

President Rodrigo Duterte was wrong when he said former Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle was booted out of his position by Pope Francis for politicking.

STATEMENT

In a March 10 speech before the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, Duterte made off-the-cuff remarks, this time taking potshots at Tagle and the Catholic Church.

Citing the book “Altar of Secrets: Sex, Politics, and Money in the Philippine Catholic Church,” the president said the institution had contributed funds to the “yellows,” the color associated with the political opposition, adding:

Kaya nagalit si Pope kasi nakialam sa politika. ‘Yan ang totoo diyan. Kaya ang ibinigay sa atin, officer-in-charge na lang. Wala tayong bishop (The Pope got mad because [the Church] meddled in politics. That’s the truth. That’s why right now all we have is an officer-in-charge. We have no bishop). Tagle was out. He was investigated.”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the 2020 General Assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, March 10, 2020, watch from 34:10 to 34:58

Duterte then said:

Yan ang open secret diyan sa… Eh ako Presidente, siyempre malaman ko. Kasi nakikinig ako sa lahat (That’s the open secret… I’m the president, so of course I know-- because I listen to everybody).”

FACT

Contrary to the president’s claim, Tagle left Manila because he was appointed to the position of Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (also known as Propaganda Fide) in the Vatican, not because he was being “investigated.”

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The former Manila archbishop, who left the country in February after being appointed by the Pope on Dec. 8, 2019, is the first Filipino and second Asian to head the “important” dicastery following the late Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias, according to a report by Vatican News, the official publication of the Holy See.

The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is responsible for promoting and coordinating missionary work across the world and thus serves as the “ordinary and exclusive instrument of the Holy Father and of the Holy See in its exercise of jurisdiction over all the Church’s missions and...missionary cooperation.”

In a separate report, Vatican News said his appointment was a sign of Pope Francis’ “great attention to the Asian continent.”

Journalist Aries Rufo’s “Altar of Secrets: Sex, Politics, and Money in the Philippine Catholic Church” -- which talks about the “wrongdoings” of the Church and how the institution influences politics in the country -- was published in June 2013, more than six years before Tagle left Manila for the Vatican.

Church leaders, including Tagle, have spoken against the killings committed under Duterte’s anti-illegal drug campaign. In an open letter in August 2017, while Tagle “agreed” that illegal drugs were, indeed, a “menace,” he called on “those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces...to stop wasting human lives.”

Duterte has repeatedly cast aspersions on the Church during speeches, even going as far as calling God “stupid.”


Sources

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Duterte during the 2020 General Assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, March 10, 2020

Holy See Press Office, TAGLE Card. Luis Antonio Gokim

Vatican News, Cardinal Tagle leaves Philippines to take up Vatican post, Feb. 10, 2020

Vatican News, Cardinal Tagle is the new Prefect of Propaganda Fide, Dec 8, 2019

Holy See Press Office, The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

Goodreads, Altar of Secrets: Sex, Politics, and Money in the Philippine Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, LET HUMANITY IN US SPEAK!, Aug. 7, 2016

Reuters, Anger simmers in the Philippines over Duterte’s drug war, Aug. 20, 2017

Inquirer.net, Villegas: You can’t solve drug problem by killing people, Feb. 13, 2017

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, Invitation to Reflect, Pray and Act, August 19, 2017

RTVM, Oath-Taking of the Newly Elected Punong Barangay of Region X (Speech), June 25, 2018


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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