Cardinal Tagle slams drug trade, launches rehab

Paterno Esmaquel II
Cardinal Tagle slams drug trade, launches rehab

Maria Salvador Tan

Selling drugs is killing people, Cardinal Tagle says, as he launches another Catholic-run drug rehabilitation program

MANILA, Philippines – Saying drugs can kill, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle condemned the illegal drug trade as he launched another drug rehabilitation program run by the Catholic Church. 

Kapag nagtinda ako o nagbigay ng isang bagay na makakasira sa kapwa, at ako ay nakinabang doon, dahil sa isang kasamaan sa kapwa, para mo na rin siyang ibinenta at pinatay,” Tagle said in a homily on Friday, March 17.

(If I sell or give something that can destroy my neighbor, and I gained from it, because of an evil done to my neighbor, it’s like selling and killing that person.)

Kapag kumikita ako sa iligal na droga, alam ko naman na ‘yon ay makasisira sa kapwa. Ako ay tumutulong sa unti-unting pagpatay sa aking kapwa,” he added.

(If I earn from illegal drugs, I know that this can destroy my neighbor. I am helping in slowly killing my neighbor.)

Tagle delivered this homily during a Mass to launch the Catholic Church’s Sanlakbay drug rehabilitation program at the St John the Baptist Parish in San Juan City on Friday.

Interior Undersecretary John Castriciones and San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez led the government officials who attended the launching Mass.

Sanlakbay in San Juan City is one of the latest drug rehabilitation programs started by the Catholic Church, which President Rodrigo Duterte has lambasted for supposedly failing to help in drug rehabilitation. 

Earlier, on January 8, Tagle signed a deal with an international drug rehabilitation farm to boost the Archdiocese of Manila’s drug rehabilitation program. Nearly 3 decades before this, one of the earliest Catholic drug rehabilitation programs had also begun in the Diocese of Malolos, Bulacan. 

‘Huwag mangmamaliit ng tao’

While slamming the drug trade, however, Tagle reminded his flock not to condemn others or to “throw” them away. (READ: Cardinal Tagle: ‘I will not give up on criminals’)

TURNING TO GOD. Filipinos attend a Mass presided by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle (not in photo) on March 17, 2017, to launch a Catholic-run drug rehabilitation program in San Juan. Photo by Roy Lagarde/Rappler

The cardinal issued this message as more than 7,000 people have died in Duterte’s war on drugs, and as the President also seeks to revive the death penalty. 

Both drug-related killings and the death penalty have been condemned by the Catholic Church. (READ: CBCP denounces ‘reign of terror’ in Duterte drug war

Tagle said on Friday: “Huwag tayong mangmamaliit ng tao. Huwag tayong magsasabi, ‘Ang taong ito, wala na itong silbi.’ Huwag tayong susuko at magsasabi, ‘Ang taong ito, wala nang pag-asa. Puwede na itong patapon.’ Hindi po.” 

(Let us not belittle people. Let us not say, “This person is useless.” Let us not give up and say, “This person is hopeless. We can throw him away.” No.)

Iiwasan ang pagsasabi, ‘Wala kang silbi. Puwede ka nang mawala. Mas gaganda ang mundo ‘pag wala ka,'” he added.

(Let us avoid saying, “You are useless. You can go away. The world will be better without you.”)

Tagle said God redeems the worst of sinners.

Walang tao, kahit gaano ka karupok, ang hahayaan ng Diyos na nakalugmok. Ikaw ay itataas. At ang iyong dangal ay bubuhayin,” the cardinal said.

(No person, however weak, will be left by God dejected. You will be raised. And your dignity will be brought to life.) –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at