FALSE: Villegas, Tagle ‘say followers are traitors’ for not voting for Otso Diretso

FALSE: Villegas, Tagle ‘say followers are traitors’ for not voting for Otso Diretso
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines says the claim is 'fake news and propaganda'

Claim: Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas supposedly told Catholics that if they did not vote for opposition slate Otso Diretso in the 2019 midterm elections, they are “traitors” of the Lord and the Church.

One claim said Villegas allegedly questioned why no member of the Otso Diretso slate made it to the Magic 12.

Another post claimed Tagle told followers that not voting for opposition bets makes them not worthy to worship the Lord, and that they are no longer welcome in church.

The first claim came from a post by “Federal Philippines” on May 14. It showed a photo of Villegas along with the text: “Bakit ni iisa wala man lang nakapasok sa iniendorso naming Otso Diretso? Tinraydor niyo na talaga ang Diyos!” (Why didn’t at least one of the Otso Diretso bets we endorsed make it to the winning circle? You really betrayed the Lord!)

The post has since been taken down. But it was shared more than 1,200 times on Facebook and received over a thousand comments and 1,400 reactions.

The second claim was written in the blog “Partner 4 Change” and was posted on May 15. The blog post was also accompanied by a photo of Tagle along with the text: “Sa lahat ng hindi bumoto sa Otso Diretso… lumabas na kayo dito sa simbahan. Wala na kayong karapatan magsimba sa Diyos. Mga traydor!” (To everyone who didn’t vote for Otso Diretso, leave the church immediately. You don’t have the right to worship the Lord anymore. Traitors!)

The blog entry is also not available anymore, but a couple of Facebook users took screenshots of it and posted it on their respective accounts. Facebook Claim Check estimates the blog link was shared on Facebook 1,700 times.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denied that Tagle and Villegas condemned churchgoers for not voting for the opposition.

“The blog post/link accusing and using the name of the two bishops clearly comes from [an] unreliable source. It is fake news and propaganda,” the CBCP said in an email to Rappler.

The first allegation involving Villegas is a rehashed claim, which Rappler already debunked in March 2019. While Villegas has been critical of the Duterte administration, he did not endorse any candidate for the 2019 elections. (READ: FALSE: Villegas says not voting Otso Diretso ‘betrays’ God)

Rappler also reached out to Federal Philippines to ask about its source. The Facebook page has seen our message, but hasn’t issued a response.

The Church earlier clarified that Tagle did not endorse specific candidates, either. Rather, he was endorsing a “process of discernment that each person can do as they prepare and choose candidates to vote for.” (READ: Church says Tagle, CBCP didn’t endorse Otso Diretso)

Rappler also reached out to Paul Pruel, the author of the “Partner 4 Change” blog that posted the claim about Tagle. Pruel responded and said that the photo he used as basis for his blog post came from Facebook group “Duterte Para sa Bayan” by user “Papasixto Abdul Francisco.”

A quick search on Facebook, however, showed there were no longer traces of the user and the post itself. This prompted Pruel to unpublish the post from his blog, but not before his blog post had already circulated. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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