Council of Bishops Meets, Tackles Current Issues and Church Concerns
The Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB) convened at the Parish of Saint Anthony of Padua, Presentacion, Camarines Sur, for the resumption of its regular meeting on 12–15 September 2011. The first day of the meeting started with a parade around the town participated by the bishops and members of the congregation which was immediately followed by a Solemn Eucharist presided by the Obispo Maximo, The Most Reverend Ephraim S. Fajutagana.
The four-day meeting gathered the bishops together who deliberated on a number of important institutional matters. In his message to the Council, the Obispo Maximo asked the bishops to make part of their deliberations the requirements of the forthcoming Constitutional Convention. The 12th General Assembly mandated the holding of a Constitutional Convention in 2012. The Council agreed to hold a conference in February next year to re-study and review the theological framework of the 1977 Constitution and Canons.
The Obispo Maximo also strongly solicited the bishops’ support to the case of Benjamin Bayles, a lay minister in the Diocese of Negros Occidental, who was a victim of political killing. Bayles was summarily executed by alleged elements of the Philippine Army on June 2010. A letter calling the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to extend support for the decisive resolution of the case was issued by the Council.
The Council similarly agreed to issue a statement supporting the call for the release of all political detainees in relation to the peace process between the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The Church has long been strongly supporting the call for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the two parties and consistently exhorts the government to demonstrate sincere efforts towards the decisive resolution of the armed conflict in the country.
Among the other important actions taken and approved during the four-day meeting of the Council were the division of the Diocese of Cebu and Bohol into two dioceses: the Diocese of Cebu and the Diocese of Bohol, respectively; and the transfer of the Diocese of Masbate and Diocese of Palawan from the Visayas Regional Conference to the South-Central Luzon Regional Conference.
The Council also approved the elevation of five missions into parishes, namely: San Juan, Ternate in the Diocese of Cavite, and Jagupit, Santiago; Tubay; Remedios T. Romualdez; and Libas, Jabonga in the Diocese of Agusans and Surigao del Sur.
The Council also expressed concerns about the growing problem of climate change and global warming after a study presented by Mr. Guillermo Lazaro, Jr. of the Philippine Peace Development (PPD).
The meeting at Presentacion Parish was the first to be held in the Bicol Region. The town of Presentacion, formerly known as Parubcan, used to be part of the town of Lagonoy, which landed in the annals of Philippine jurisprudence because of the famous Barlin versus Ramirez case in 1906. The case, which was decided against the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, was about the take-over of the church in Lagonoy by Fr. Vicente Ramirez, a Roman Catholic priest who joined the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, together with the whole townspeople, in 1902.
At present, parishes in Camarines Sur are under the Diocese of MAQUEBACA with the Right Reverend Rowel S. Arevalo as Diocesan Bishop.