At a glance
- Claim: A priest made a Facebook post, supposedly saying people should stop attending church masses if they will not vote for presidential candidate Leni Robredo.
- Rating: FALSE
- The facts: The priest did not mention any name on the post in question. The screenshot was a manipulated photo of the text, combined with an image of him with Robredo which appeared in a separate post on a different date.
- Why we fact-checked this: The viral post is causing public misunderstanding against priests who supposedly campaign for candidates.
A Facebook page with the name “Kapitan Solomon 2022” on February 5 quoted a priest supposedly telling people to stop going to church masses if they are not voting for presidential candidate Leni Robredo.
The first line of the caption of the post says, “‘Don’t attend church if you’re not voting for Leni.’ – Priest James Uy Gascon.”
The page with over 59,000 followers posted an image that looks like a screenshot of a Facebook post of priest James “Dyames” Uy-Gascon, which contains a caption that encourages people to vote for decent candidates and a photo of him with Robredo.
As of writing, the post has over 27,000 reactions, 8,600 comments, and 44,000 shares on Facebook. It has also been reposted several times by multiple accounts which question the integrity of the Catholic Church.
The claim that the priest said the quote is false.
The screenshot is a manipulated photo of two posts uploaded on different dates. The caption is from a post the priest posted on October 4, 2021, three days before Robredo announced her presidential bid on October 7.
The first two lines of the post reads, “This coming elections, itataya ko ang pagka-pari ko. Kung di kayo buboto sa matinong kandidato, wag na kayong magsimba. (I will risk my priesthood this incoming elections. If you are not going to vote for a decent candidate, you should stop attending mass.)”
He did not mention any name on it. He already took down the post.
Previously, on December 5, 2021, when his controversial post resurfaced before the recent incident, he called out the people who targeted him. He said, “I still stand up to my challenge. Wag na kayong magsimba kung boboto kayo sa demonyo. [Dagdag] ko lang mga BBM trolls and supporters, tingnan niyo ulit post ko kung nakita nyo ang pangalan ng kandidato niyo.”
(I still stand up to my challenge. If you are going to vote for somebody who is evil, you should stop attending mass. To the trolls and supporters of BBM, look at the post again if you see the name of your candidate.) BBM refers to Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Meanwhile, Gascon posted the photo on November 26, 2021. The circulating version of the image, however, is cropped. It does not show the two other people who posed with him and Robredo in the original photo. The caption above reads “Alam na this (This says it all)” and does not contain the caption he allegedly used.
On February 8, Gascon addressed the issue in a Facebook post. He said he had the photo with Robredo back in 2017.
Gascon is only one among the priests and members of the Catholic Church who have expressed their support for a presidential candidate. Catholic group “Pari Madre Misyonero Para Kay Leni” on February 15 endorsed the tandem of Vice President Robredo and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan for their presidential and vice-presidential bid, respectively.
On the other hand, Brother Mike Velarde, leader of the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai, announced his support for the tandem of Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte.
The Catholic Church has a rich history of standing up against political abuses. Bishops, nuns, and priests were among the people who suffered under the dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos. They continue to express their firm conviction against abuses and injustices in the government as part of their moral duty. As Filipino citizens, their rights include freedom of expression and freedom in choosing their candidate for the election. – Cybelle Dawn Fajilan/Rappler.com
Cybelle Dawn Fajilan is a Rappler Mover. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor.
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