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Philippine bishops' conference elects new president

Archbishop Villegas is a staunch opponent of RH Law

Philippine bishops' conference elects new president

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan reporter, Manila

July 8, 2013

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The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) elected a new president at its Plenary Assembly yesterday.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan will replace Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, who is not seeking a second term, as head of the collegial body.

Palma, who could have sought another two-year term as the conference head, says he wants to focus on his pastoral work in Cebu.

“There are many bishops who are also capable [of the task]. Cebu is a very big archdiocese and I have tons of work to do there,” Palma said.

Villegas, who was known to have had strong ties with former president Corazon Aquino, the mother of the incumbent president, is a staunch critic of the controversial Reproductive Health Law passed by Congress last year.

Fr Francis Lucas, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Social Communication and Mass Media, said the new CBCP president "will surely stand by Church teachings no matter what."

The government welcomed the election of Villegas and wished him well as he faces "new challenges as president of the CBCP."

Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government looks forward to "future engagements under his leadership."

Born on September 28, 1960 in Manila, Villegas was ordained a priest on Oct 5, 1985 and appointed a bishop on July 25, 2001. 

He became Auxiliary Bishop of Manila on Dec 8, 1989. In May 2004, he was named bishop of Balanga and later succeeded Archbishop Oscar Cruz as prelate of Lingayen-Dagupan in 2009. 

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