A Boholano was elected yesterday as the new president of the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) after winning in an election attended by almost 100 bishops in the entire country at the Pope Pius Center in Manila.
Davao Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, a native of Maribojoc town succeeded Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas who will end his term as president of the episcopal organization this year.
The Boholano CBCP president will turn 66 years old tomorrow.
He served as vice president of CBCP for four years while his term as president will run for two years but can run for a second term. Traditionally, the vice president gets elected as the new president of the bishops’ group.
Other officers elected yesterday were Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, vice president; Palo Archbishop John Du treasurer and Fr. Marvin Mejia, secretary general.
National media immediately commented the closeness of the Archbishop Valles and President Duterte. He is the church leader who once advised then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to not only stop using cuss words in his speeches but also to pray the rosary every day for atonement.
Bishop Alberto Uy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran who broke the news to the Chronicle yesterday said it is “providential that Valles was elected the new CBCP president,” when asked about the public perception of the closeness of the new CBCP President and Pres. Duterte.
“Since the election came amidst prayers, then Valles could be God’s choice to head our group,” Uy said.
In an August 2016 interview, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz had expressed apprehension over the idea of having Valles as CBCP president, saying he is “rather close” to Duterte as they are both from Davao City. “The closeness has nothing to do with what is right or wrong. It will have a relevance on how CBCP will look at the overall value of the actuation of the President of the Republic,” Cruz told ANC last year.
“Being based in Davao, then the incoming CBCP president will definitely be more one with him than otherwise,” he added. Valles will be assuming the helm of the CBCP at a time when the church and the administration have taken opposing sides on critical issues, among them Duterte’s fierce war on drugs and moves to revive the death penalty.
Outgoing Villegas has been very vocal against these programs.
Just this February, the CBCP issued a pastoral letter that said the government’s war on drugs has caused a “reign of terror” among Filipinos.
WHO IS VALLES?
Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, DD was born on July 10, 1951, in Maribojoc, Bohol. He was ordained a priest on April 6, 1976, and was appointed Fourth Bishop of Kidapawan on June 24, 1997, by Pope John Paul II. His episcopal ordination was on Aug. 6, 1997. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Fifth Metropolitan Archbishop of Zamboanga on Nov. 13, 2006. He was installed on Jan. 9, 2007.
Formerly, he serves as chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Liturgy and a member of the Permanent Committee on Cultural Heritage of the Church.
Pope Benedict XVI named Archbishop Romulo G. Valles of Zamboanga as metropolitan archbishop of Davao, February 11, 2012. He succeeds Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
Valles installed on May 22, 2012, as the fourth Archbishop of Davao.
Bishop Valles speaks English, Tagalog, Chavacano, Cebuano and Italian.
He finished his grade school at the Maribojoc Central Elementary School while his high school at the Maryknoll High School in Davao and college A.B. Philosophy at St. Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary Davao City, 1968-1972
He completed his Theology at St. Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary Davao City, 1972-1976 and a Post Graduate
Licentiate in Sacred Liturgy Pontificio Ateneo Sant’ Anselmo Rome, Italy, 1985-1990
He is a masters degree holder in Religious Education Ignatian Institute for Religious Education Ateneo de Davao University, 1997.
His church ministry started as assistant parish priest of the Christ the King Parish in Tagum, Davao in 1976 then parish priest at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish, Mati, Davao Oriental and at the Christ the King Cathedral. He was appointed Vicar General, Diocese of Tagum.
He is Teaching Scripture, Queen of Apostles College Seminary, Tagum, Davao.
He was a former coordinator, Spiritual Formation Year, St. Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary, Davao City then appointed as Vice-Rector, St. Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary, Davao City. In 1993, he was named of the seminary.
The beginnings of CBCP may be traced back to 15 February 1945 when the Most Rev. William Piani, D.D. Apostolic delegate to the Philippines, created the Catholic Welfare Organization, to meet the war emergency. On 19 July, the CWO became the official organization of the hierarchy of the Philippines, with the Most Rev. Gabriel Reyes, D.D., Archbishop of Cebu, as Chairman. It had 17 members.
Incorporated on 22 January 1946, its purpose was to unify, coordinate and organize the Filipino Catholics in the works of education, social welfare, religious and spiritual aid under the direction of the Filipino bishops. The Holy See approved the Constitution on 28 June 1952.
In line with the Vatican II developments, the CWO became the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on 31 January 1968. Its purpose was to study, promote and coordinate in a way corresponding ever more closely to the needs of the present time, the Church apostolate in the country.
In 1972, the bishops updated its structure, and the changes were given recognition by the Holy Father on 21 May 1974.
Finally, on 23 January 1988, a revised Constitution was approved by the Holy See. According to this document, the purpose of the Conference is to promote solidarity in the Philippine Church, formulate joint pastoral policies and programs, engage the Philippine Church as abide in the pastoral thrusts of the universal Church, assume the responsibilities as evangelizer in relation to all the people and with the civil authority in particular and to foster relations with other Episcopal Conferences.
It has 93 active and 25 honorary members.