MANILA, June 16, 2011— In what could be a very rare occasion, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed three Filipino prelates in a day.
First, is Laoag Bishop Sergio Utleg who was appointed as archbishop of Tuguegarao in Northern Philippines.
Utleg will succeed Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan, 78, whose resignation, which he filed in 2008 upon having reached the age limit of 75, has finally been accepted by the pope.
The archbishop-elect will serve the archdiocese with around 1.3 million Catholics, 82 priests and 122 religious.
Utleg is currently the chairman of the Episcopal Commission Indigenous Peoples of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Also appointed was Monsignor Jose Bantolo, vicar general of the Diocese of San Jose de Antique as the new bishop of Masbate.
Bantolo was born in Guisijan town in Antique on November 12, 1960 and ordained priest on April 21, 1986.
The Diocese of Masbate has no prelate since 2009 after Bishop Joel Baylon was transferred to the Diocese of Legazpi.
Bantolo will serve the diocese with a population of 704,000 Catholics, 56 priests, and 18 religious.
The pontiff also named Monsignor David William Valencia Antonio, who is currently the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese.
Antonio was born in Nagtupacan, Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur on December 1, 1963 and ordained a priest on December 1, 1988.
The appointment of the three prelates was made at the Vatican at noon (6pm, Manila time) on Wednesday, June 15, 2011.
In the Philippines, the announcement was made by the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila, in a communiqué sent to the CBCP. [CBCPNews]