MANILA - Pope Francis has appointed a critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics drive as the administrator of the Philippine capital's archdiocese, officials of the Manila Cathedral said Monday.
The appointment of Bishop Broderick Pabillo as "Apostolic Administrator" of the Manila archdiocese comes after its erstwhile head, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, left for Rome.
Tagle will serve as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Vatican’s top missionary department.
An apostolic administrator usually leads a diocese or an archdiocese when it has no ruling bishop, a period known as "sede vacante". He will stay as caretaker of the diocese until a new bishop is chosen.
In 2017, Pabillo rejected the invitation of the national police for priests to join anti-drug operations, saying this was "propaganda."
"May simbahan tapos babarilin nila, kung sino-sinong tao ang babarilin. Tapos sisisihin kami na kasama kami sa programa? At gagamitin lang kami... hindi kami sasama," he said.
(That is only propaganda. There is Church presence and then they will shoot people and then put the blame on us because we are included in the program? We will only be used...We will not join.)
Pabillo in the same year told the public to reject Duterte's call to "kill" Abu Sayyaf bandits in exchange for a bounty and immunity from any criminal liability.
He also said Duterte's penchant of bringing up "non-issues" and his tirades against the Church are meant to cover his own shortcomings in governance.
"Palagay ko ginagawa niya yan dahil may mga tinatago siya na mga kapalpakan ng kanyang pamamahala. Hindi naman natutupad yung mga pangako niya," he said in an interview.