Bishop Pabillo, outspoken Duterte critic, tests positive for COVID-19

Paterno Esmaquel II
Bishop Broderick Pabillo was supposed to lead a Mass for Justice and Peace ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, an outspoken critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, confirmed on Thursday, July 23, that he tested positive for COVID-19.

Pabillo, temporary head of the Archdiocese of Manila, said he is asymptomatic but is under quarantine. “Although I do not feel anything, I follow the protocol that is set,” he said.

“I know this virus will pass, so please do not worry about me, although prayers would be very much appreciated. Since I am in my normal self, thank God, the scheduled online meetings that we have set will continue. Life must go on,” Pabillo said.

Pabillo is the first Filipino bishop to contract the coronavirus, said the news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). He is temporarily heading the Archdiocese of Manila, the de facto seat of Catholicism in the Philippines, while Pope Francis has not appointed a replacement to former Manila archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

Pabillo was supposed to lead a Mass for Justice and Peace at 12:15 pm on Monday, July 27, hours before Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address on the same day.

Pabillo said a priest from the Archdiocese of Manila will take his place in the Masses he is scheduled to lead. The priest will also read his homilies.

This comes as governments and churches worldwide debate the reopening of places of worship as the coronavirus pandemic has hit more than 14 million people around the world. Pabillo earlier criticized the Duterte government for allowing only up to 10 people in churches. –

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