The appointment of Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles as president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) signals a “new day of peace”, Malacanang said Sunday.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella issued the statement a day after Valles, who hails from President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown of Davao City, was named to the top post after serving Mindanao for four decades.
“Our warm congratulations to Archbishop Valles as he leads the faithful in the country towards developing a deeper spiritual life and for the Church to have a more open dialogue and cooperation with the government, especially in working for the poor and the marginalized,” Abella said.
“The new CBCP head from Davao signals a new day of peace for a multi-cultural Philippines. His familiarity with Davao and Mindanao would augur well as we promote interfaith dialogue and intercultural understanding as part of our efforts to rebuild Marawi and to transform Mindanao into a land of fulfillment,” Abella added.
Marawi City in Lanao del Sur has been under siege since May 23 from the Maute terrorist group, which has been seeking to establish a caliphate in Mindanao with Islamist extremist leader Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf as its emir. This “act of rebellion” became the basis of President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a 60-day martial rule that would end on July 22 pending an assessment by the military and police.
It can also be recalled that Duterte and the CBCP have been at odds because of the President’s pronouncements on issues that matter to the Catholic Church such as birth control, human rights and the restoration of the death penalty. His first brush was with no less than Pope Francis himself whom he blamed and cursed for the traffic congestion he allegedly caused when he came to the Philippines in 2015. Duterte has since apologized and the Pope has forgiven him.
The Philippines remains to be the only Catholic Country in Asia, with 80 percent of Filipinos, according to research, adhering to the Catholic faith. LLANESCA T. PANTI