Mindanao bishop new CBCP head

MANILA, July 11, 2009— The new president of the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is based in Mindanao.

Winning by an overwhelming majority of bishops from 86 dioceses in the country, Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar would succeed outgoing CBCP chief Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.

Odchimar, a canon lawyer, is currently serving his first term as vice president of the bishops’ collegial body.

Odchimar was elected during the 99th Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila Saturday.

CBCP secretary general Msgr Juanito Figura said the vote was taken among the 88 active bishops at the meeting. Several of the bishops earlier expressed support for his election.

As president of the CBCP, the 68-year-old prelate will also chair the organization’s Permanent Council

The council acts for and in behalf of the entire conference whenever the plenary assembly, which meets only twice a year, is not in session. The body may be convened by the CBCP president at any time.

The council is also mandated to work with the commissions and assign them functions of urgent character that were not taken up in the plenary.

One of the council’s main functions is to prepare joint statements or pastoral letters of the Catholic hierarchy on matters decided upon by the plenary assembly, provided that copies are sent to other members for comment and approval before they are officially released.

Meanwhile, the CBCP leadership also elected Palo Archbishop Jose Palma, 59, as the new vice-president. Msgr. Figura was reelected secretary general and Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco was reelected treasurer.

Other council members serving as regional representatives were also elected. For Luzon, elected were Bayombong Bishop Ramon Villena, San Fernando (Pampanga) Auxiliary Bishop Pablo David, Infanta Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, Taytay Bishop Edgardo Juanich and Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes.

Elected for the Visayas were Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso and Jaro Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza. Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Valles and Pagadian Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar were elected for Mindanao.

Odchimar and other members of the permanent council will start serving their terms in December 2009.

The president and the vice-president are elected for two-year terms and can serve for a minimum of two terms. (Roy Lagarde)

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