MANILA - Malacañang congratulated the new president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) saying the church leader can help promote interfaith dialogue in the country, particularly in Mindanao.
Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, who was elected CBCP president on Saturday, served Mindanao as a Catholic priest for four decades, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Sunday.
Abella added that Valles' familiarity with Mindanao will be a big help in efforts to rebuild Marawi City, where clashes between government troops and terrorists have been ongoing since May 23.
"His familiarity with Davao and Mindanao would augur well for the country as we promote interfaith dialogue and intercultural understanding as part of our efforts to rebuild Marawi," he said.
Abella called the election of Valles as CBCP president "a new day of peace for a multi-cultural Philippines." Valles succeeded Lingayen, Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who steps down this year.
Valles was the former archbishop of Zamboanga before being appointed to the Davao see in 2012. He is currently rector of the St. Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary.
The archbishop is known to be close to the family of President Rodrigo Duterte, a long-time Davao City Mayor.
In March, Valles baptized Duterte's youngest grandson Marko Digong Carpio, nicknamed Stonefish.
In an August 2016 interview, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz had expressed apprehension over the idea of having Valles as CBCP president, saying he is "rather close" to Duterte.