Latest Stories

Bishop Soc Villegas heads CBCP

Villegas to pursue fight against RH law

By , , Leila B. Salaverria

The protégé of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates “Soc” Villegas, was elected president of the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Sunday amid a continuing conflict between the Church and the Aquino administration on the controversial reproductive health (RH) law.

At 52, Villegas will lead the 96 active and 40 honorary members of the bishops’ collegial body when Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma ends his term on Dec. 1. To succeed Villegas as vice president is Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles.

While Villegas is known to have had strong ties with the late President Corazon Aquino, the mother of the incumbent Chief Executive, he is perceived as one who will not give in to the whims of the current administration.

“One thing is certain, the archbishop will talk as needed. He will not keep quiet,” Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz told the Inquirer over the phone on Sunday.

“This man is intelligent and courageous. He will exercise his [pastoral duties] and will put into action his qualifications.” Cruz said.

Cruz cited a pronouncement that Villegas made amid the debate on the RH bill last year, which he noted “had angered the Palace.”

“My dear youth, contraception is corruption. The use of government money, taxpayers’ money to give out contraceptive pills is corruption. Contraceptive pills teach us it is all right to have sex with someone provided you are safe from babies,” Villegas said then.

Villegas’ statement denouncing President Aquino for supporting the RH measure was proof that he would continue to lead the Church in fighting other measures that would compromise Catholic values, Cruz said.

“This means that he will speak when needed. He will speak his mind according to Church teachings,” he said. “I know what I am talking about because when he was appointed the secretary of Cardinal Sin, we were already [working] together.”

Cruz, likewise a former CBCP president and ex-archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, said he had seen how Villegas worked and he was confident that the prelate would do a great job.

Ball in Palace court

Fr. Francis Lucas, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Social Communication and Mass Media, also has the same expectations of Villegas.

“He will surely stand by the Church teachings no matter what,” he said in a text message to the Inquirer. “I suppose the ball is in the Palace’s court since Archbishop Socrates was close to the late President Cory Aquino.”

But he added that the Church was always open to listen and dialogue to try to understand if certain issues were truly for the common good.

The CBCP announced the results of the election on the second day of its three-day annual plenary assembly at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Paco, Manila.

Palma was still eligible for another two-year term as the head of the Church body but prior to the assembly, he declared his intention of giving up his post so that he could attend to his pastoral duties in the Cebu archdiocese, which would host the International Eucharistic Congress in 2016.

Villegas, who was ordained priest by Sin in 1985 and auxiliary bishop of Manila in 2001, will have a two-year tenure. Valles will also serve for two years. But by tradition, incumbent officials may be reelected to a second term.

The assembly also elected Sunday Fr. Marvin Mejia as secretary general, succeeding Msgr. Joselito Asis.

Election welcomed


“We extend our congratulations to Archbishop Villegas and wish him well as he faces new challenges as president of the CBCP,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.

Valte said the Palace looked forward to “future engagements under his leadership.”

The election of Villegas came two days before the Supreme Court opens oral arguments on petitions seeking to nullify the controversial Republic Act No. 10354, or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act.

The 12 petitions against the law included one filed by the son of CBCP legal counsel Jo Aurea Imbong. Ranged against them are six petitions backing the law, filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Sen. Pia Cayetano and three former health secretaries, among others.

RA 10354, which mandates the state to provide the poor with reproductive health services, including access to contraceptives, and sex education to schoolchildren, was signed by President Aquino on Dec. 21 last year.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines , Catholic Church , CBCP , Philippines , RH law , Socrates “Soc” Villegas

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Drilon calls for sobriety as mudslinging, witch hunts loom due to pork scam
  • S. Korea ferry toll hits 150 as search gets tougher
  • If Napoles names Aquino allies, they’ll be brought to bar of justice – Palace
  • Lacson says diamond-studded earring snatched from wife fake
  • Pope John XXIII launched Vatican II and then some
  • Sports

  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Pacers rally past Hawks 101-85 to even series
  • David Moyes out as Manchester United manager
  • Nadal to face fellow Spaniard at Barcelona Open
  • Defensive Chelsea holds Atletico in scoreless draw
  • Lifestyle

  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Sweet party for Andi Manzano
  • Entertainment

  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Summer movie preview: Bay reboots ‘Transformers’
  • Business

  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • $103M Vista Land bonds tendered for redemption
  • Oil slips to $102 as US crude supplies seen rising
  • SC stops Meralco power rate hike anew
  • Technology

  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law
  • New York police Twitter campaign backfires badly
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • No word yet on inking of US-PH defense pact during Obama visit
  • Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  • China, rivals sign pact to ease maritime tensions
  • Visa-free US trip? Do not believe it, says consulate
  • Obama visit to Asia seen as counterweight to China
  • Marketplace