Duterte said Cardinal Tagle’s change of office was punishment for his meddling in politics. “We were only given a caretaker who is a priest. Manila has no more bishop. Pope Francis got angry because he [Tagle] meddled with politics,” Duterte said.
Duterte was incorrect in his claim that Manila has no bishop. On Feb. 10, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Broderick Pabillo, auxiliary bishop of Manila, as the apostolic administrator of Manila Archdiocese.
Bishop Pabillo has been a vocal critic of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and the extrajudicial killings linked with it.
Duterte has a history of attacking church leaders in the Catholic-majority country. He once referred to Catholic bishops as “idiots” after they criticized the spate of drug-related killings. “You don’t have to go to church to pay for these idiots,” he said in a public speech in November 2018.