MANILA, July 10, 2011—After two years, Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar has decided to vacate the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) highest post in December.
Filling his shoes is 61-year old Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, the current vice president of the bishops’ collegial body.
In electing Palma as the CBCP president, the bishops broke a long-time practice in the Catholic hierarchy.
By tradition, Odchimar is supposed to assume the presidency for two terms or a cumulative of four years.
Before the CBCP election on Monday, however, Odchimar expressed to the body his desire not to be nominated anymore.
The reason? Poor health.
More than being an administrative position, the post has required Odchimar to make travels to represent the CBCP in both local and international meetings.
From Tandag in Surigao del Sur, Odchimar had to take a ‘difficult travel’ to Davao City for four hours to take an airplane to Manila where the physical office of the CBCP President is.
“Bishop Odchimar asked not to be nominated anymore for health reasons and (because of) the difficulty of travelling from Tandag to Manila for necessary trips,” said Msgr. Juanito Figura, outgoing CBCP secretary general.
During the election at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila on Saturday, the CBCP also named Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop SocratesVillegas as its vice president.
Dumaguete Bishop John Du was named treasurer; while Msgr. Joselito Asis, who is currently the CBCP assistant secretary general, will take Figura’s post.
Like Odchimar, Figura also decided to step down from the post. He is leaving the CBCP after completing eight years of service.
On Sunday, the prelates also elected the regional representatives for the CBCP Permanent Council.
Elected were Archbishop Sergio Utleg, Bishops Virgilio David, Arturo Bastes, Francisco de Leon, Reynaldo Evangelista for Luzon; Bishops Leonardo Medroso and Patricio Buzon for Visayas; and Bishops Antonieto Cabajog and Guillermo Afable for Mindanao. (CBCPNews)