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BECAUSE I LOVE OUR SEMINARIANS!

 

I wish to present the following recollection of events that led to my involvement in the Doble incident at San Carlos Seminary.

 

Around late morning of June 13, 2005, I received a phone call from our seminary priests at San Carlos Seminary asking for help because the seminary could not continue its regular program for our future priests on account of the disorder in the compound caused by the presence of Atty. Ong and Mr. Doble in the seminary premises and the consequent media presence by the only gate of the seminary. The seminary needs to maintain an atmosphere of prayer, reflection and study. I promised to help and go to Manila to assist them. That same morning I also received another call on my mobile phone from Ms. Medy Poblador whom I knew as one of the assistants of former President Corazon Aquino( later on I realized that she was no longer an assistant of the former President but had become a staff for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo). She asked me if I was aware of the ongoing crisis inside the San Carlos Seminary compound. I said yes as I expressed concern for our seminarians inside the compound whose priestly discipline of study, prayer and silence was being disturbed by the presence of Atty. Ong and Mr. Doble. She said there were plans to use military force to get Atty Ong and Mr Doble out of the seminary. I raised alarm about endangering the lives of our seminarians. Medy asked if I was willing to help. I said “Of course for our seminarians I will do everything!”

 

She then asked me if I could come to Manila. I said yes and promised to be in Manila in two and half hours. She replied that it might be too close to the military deadline. She then offered that I be fetched by helicopter from Balanga City. Reluctantly because I knew the condition of most military helicopters, I agreed. My seminarians' welfare was foremost to me.

 

I was fetched by the military helicopter at the PNP Camp in Balanga City. I landed in Camp Aguinaldo and was brought to the AFP Officers Club where they offered me lunch. I declined because I wanted to be brought immediately to the seminary to relieve the situation. Commodore Danga and General Adan offered to orient me briefly of the situation using the television. I was shown a television footage of the wife of Mr Doble at the gate of the seminary asking for help that her husband may be allowed to leave the seminary. I was told by one of the military officials that the wife was under their care inside the officers quarters. After the brief orientation, I took a black van offered by Commodore Tirso Danga and went to San Carlos Seminary alone with the driver. On the way, I called Archbishop Rosales on my mobile phone to seek his blessings. He assured me of his blessings and admonished me exhaust all means to avoid violence.

 

I went to the visitors' reception area where I found Mr Doble alone. I introduced myself and told him I was there to bring him out of San Carlos Seminary. Seeming skeptical of me, I said I have the cell phone of your wife to prove to you that I am a good person and I will cause you no harm. Mr Doble talked to his wife on the phone. After the conversation, Mr Doble said to me he was ready to go with me. I asked Mr Doble where he wanted me to bring him. He said “To my family”. I brought him to the seminary chapel to pray. Bishop Cortez and some priests came to send him off. Mr Doble thanked them and asked for understanding for the troubles to the seminarians.

 

The black van brought us to Camp Aguinaldo at 1:35 pm. I was led to a room in the AFP Officers Club where Mrs Doble and the children were waiting. Having brought Mr Doble back to his family, I left the room out of reverence for the intimacy of the moment. Some of the officers expressed thanks to me but I told them I really did it for our seminarians not for anyone in government.

 

I wish to state categorically that I did what I did because of my love and concern for our distressed and confused seminarians whose building was trespassed and whose seminary rhythm and priestly discipline was disturbed.

 

I did it as a bishop whose main duty is to be a father to his priests and future priests. If there was indeed to be military operation in the seminary to bring out Mr Doble and Atty Ong that day, I wanted to be with our seminarians and priests at that moment of crisis to assure them, to console them and tell them I was ready to die with them.

 

From the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, Balanga City, September 7, 2007

 

 

 

 

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Bishop of Balanga

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The Roman Catholic
Diocese of Balanga
(Bataan, Philippines)