MANILA - Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David is now serving as acting president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) while the group's incumbent president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles is recovering from stroke.
In an interview with Church-run Radio Veritas on Friday, David explained that as CBCP's vice president, it is his duty to assume the position of acting president until Valles fully recovers.
"Nagka-stroke ang ating presidente sa Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. And while he was recovering, ay nagkaroon sya ng hospital-acquired pneumonia. So 'yung pneumonia had to be treated bago sya nakapag-rehab bago doon sa kanyang stroke," the prelate said.
[Our president in the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines suffered from stroke. And while he was recovering, he had a hospital-acquired pneumonia. And so it has to be treated first before he can start his rehabilitation with his stroke.]
David assured the public that Valles has been discharged from the hospital and is now recuperating in his home archdiocese in Davao.
"He wrote a letter appointing me as the acting president in his absence habang nagre-recuperate siya sa kanyang kalagayan o health condition ngayon. Kasi ako iyong vice president, kaya ako ang acting dahil ako ang vice president. So temporary lang naman ito. Si archbishop is recuperating very well," he added.
[He wrote a letter appointing me as the acting president in his absence while he is recuperating from his current health condition. I am the vice president, that's why I became the acting president. This is only temporary. The archbishop is recuperating very well.]
The CBCP already postponed their plenary assembly due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Despite this, David said the CBCP's permanent council already had a meeting twice via online platform to discuss the issues affecting the Church in the Philippines, including its response to the pandemic.
Should Filipino bishops follow tradition, David is expected to be elected to the leadership of the powerful group once Valles completes his term. For the past years, the bishops have been electing their vice president as the next president of the group.
Valles first ascended to the post in July 2017, succeeding Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. The Davao archbishop, who is a friend of the family of the President Rodrigo Duterte, was re-elected last July 2019 and will stay in the office until November 30, 2021.
According to the CBCP constitution, its officials have a 2-year tenure, or a total of 4 to include the 2nd term when re-elected.
Being an outspoken critic of the government's bloody war against illegal drugs, David was one of the prelates who has earned the ire of Duterte.
In one of his speeches, the president spoke of a bishop named "David" who was allegedly bringing Church donations to his family for personal use.
The Caloocan bishop noted that he is the only Filipino bishop named "David" and that Duterte may have confused him for someone else.
At one point, David also admitted to receiving death threats.