WHILE people were paying their respects to their deceased loved ones, two priests were locked in an angry argument that caused a scene at the Manila Memorial Park (MMP) in Parañaque City.
It began when a certain Rev. Ben Ponteres, who claimed to be with the Church for Christ, was confronted by Fr. Carmelo Estores, parish priest of the Our Lady of Peace and chaplain of the Manila Memorial Park chapel.
Estores asked Ponteres to stop giving blessings in exchange for donations from the people who had come to the private memorial park on All Saints’ Day.
Ponteres insisted that he is a legitimate priest, although not affiliated with the Roman Catholic clergy.
“Please respect us Catholics in the observance of this very important occasion,” Estores told Ponteres.
The confrontation led to a noisy debate, with Ponteres tracing how Filipino Catholic priests split from the Roman Catholic Church during the Spanish era.
It ended when Estores called in the park’s security guards, prompting Ponteres to leave.
Another man who identified himself as Carlo Buenaventura, a pastor from the Christian Missionaries, was also told to leave the cemetery.
Manila Memorial Park Manager Lamberto Peña, said he had coordinated with the Our Lady of Peace parish to prevent fake priests from giving blessings inside the cemetery.
“They just take advantage of the occasion to dupe people, they give blessings and they charge fees afterwards for that service which is supposed to be free,” he told The Manila Times in an interview.
There were no other incidents reported at the private cemetery.
“The observance of All Saints’ Day was peaceful and orderly. We hope that this will continue until November 3,” Peña said.