Top 10 Filipino Catholic Bishops and Their Scandals

You might be familiar with some Biblical catchwords such as “whitewashed tombs”, “brood of vipers”, “you hypocrites” and so on. Well, these berating metaphorical call outs are touted for priests, pharisees and rabbi especially during the time of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus himself sees that these church high rollers don’t live up to what they preach.

Outwardly they seem to practice what they say, but under the shadows of their swaddling clothes they live double standards and pernicious lives.

These religious blunders are not just a modern embarrassment but also a reproach as old as time itself. If Jesus’ time is the starting block with the pharisees as antagonists, then unfortunately, it had dangled miles and miles of generations of religious patriarch we now call “reverend fathers”, “bishops” or “archbishops”.

If you are a Catholic religious zealot, you’ll find this list hard to sink in. But in cases you give yourself a chance for an open mind, we have here some Top 10 Catholic bishops with their respective demerits. And learn that they may not be what you think they are, pulpits aside.

Top 10 Filipino Catholic Bishops and Their Scandals
Source: Wikimedia

1. Bishop Paciano Aniceto

Bishop Paciano Aniceto replaced Bishop Oscar Cruz after the former’s failed attempt into making Pampanga Diocese a straight path. While Cruz sees only polarities in discipline, Aniceto speckled his tutelage with shower of “mercy and forgiveness” to his willfully erring priests. This in turn enliven priest to treat their vow of celibacy like doormats.

It is during the time of Aniceto that almost half out of 100 Pampanga priests under his shadow are fornicating or indulging into sexual misadventure and eventually siring children. Bishop Aniceto might not have made his hand red with carnal malice, but his babysitting of promiscuous priests led him the ire of his parishioners and the victims.

Case in point a certain Father Arnold Rivera was accused in September 1993 of abusing Christian Evangelista’s girlfriend. They brought it up to Aniceto’s office to no avail. Another complaint was filed a month later by certain Maria Luiza Robles against a priest who berated her to her bones. All these and more including priests that sired children are still in service through Aniceto’s allowances.

Instead of taking action, Aniceto took an archaic and belittling approach to their complaints by saying “he cannot expel these priests because they are humans too” and “those women who suffered such fate is because they are the ones seducing priests.

What more can we expect?

Top 10 Filipino Catholic Bishops and Their Scandals
Source: PBase

2. Bishop Cirilo Almario

Bishop Cirilo Almario was tending Malolos Diocese when he was embroiled in an investigation about his homosexual misconduct during his directorship of the Immaculate Conception Minor Seminary in Guiguinto, Bulacan. Bishop Leonardo Legaspi of Naga City, who spearheaded the investigation quoted that he is holding in his hand the rearing ugly head of the bishop’s misconduct. Though, Legaspi and Almario are best of friends, the Vatican’s commission will put asunder on their friendship later on.

Legaspi stayed in the seminary for almost a week eavesdropping on the supposed victims, collating affidavit after affidavit. Later on, it was also discovered that six other priests assigned in the seminary were also engaged in the sexual misdemeanor against the seminarians.

It wasn’t really clear if Almario has finally been discharged from his post as he just faded away like a smog. But peering upon general informations, he was on official and indefinite leave due to poor health – a generic alibi for bishops under siege.

Top 10 Filipino Catholic Bishops and Their Scandals
Source: YouTube

3. Bishop Teodoro Bacani

Bishop Bacani was a resigned bishop of Novaliches when his issues flared up. A woman named Rosalyn, brought the issue to the Vatican when local Catholic authorities refused to heed her plea. It was said that Rosalyn, 35 that time and Bacani’s personal secretary, was sexually harassed by him. In 1980s He was into some elicit affairs with a woman when he was pasturing Paco diocese. The woman was just codenamed “MP.” After which, another flux of scandal painted him red again to a teacher were their public display of affection did not go unnoticed by those close to the bishop.

With all these glaring misconducts, the Catholic Church is seen swaying from side to side like an unthinking creature without a backbone. They were not able to muster a solid verdict on Bishop Bacani’s case despite of him being amenable of his scandals in November 2003.

The Fall of a Prince – Bishop Crisostomo Yalung
Source: UCA News

4. Bishop Crisostomo Yalung

If you were not born yesterday, you know that this is one of the most celebrated church higher ups scandal in the Philippines. Bishop Crisostomo Yalung is one of Cardinal Sin’s protégé. As apple of Zeus’ eyes, he was assigned in to some lucrative financial adventures of the Catholic church. To name a few, he was Board Member of the Bank of Philippine Islands, where the Catholic Church is major stakeholder. He was Chairman of the Church owned travel agency Catholic Travel Inc. and Fidelity Insurance Inc; an insurance company also owned by the church.

If you think these official affairs are enough to make Yalung’s hands pre-occupied, well, the young Turk is just getting started with some “extracurricular” activities.

His willful moral debacle started when he is assigned in one of the richest parishes in the Philippines, the Sacred Heart Parish of Makati. A woman in her early 50s is seen to have been clearly infatuated with the bishop who is in his early 40s. Some parishioners are noticing that their exchanges are becoming mutually elaborate. But it wasn’t long before the sweetness was tinged with sourness, when a third-party warm body crashed the gate by the name Christine Rances.

This woman has distinct taste towards men in swaddling clothes. Rances met Yalung in 2003 for an alleged confession on her illicit affair with a priest. Rances is married at that time. To cut the story short, Yalung and Rances became “text-mates”. Soon the text-based exchanges became highly coordinated with frequent meetup’s. Rances broke up with her legal husband and cleave with Yalung.

To sustain the material end of their relationship, goodies and offerings from the Makati parish just took detours and goes straight into Rances for her sustenance. These includes fruits, other assorted food and even sacks of rice. In-kind provisions isn’t enough just yet, on further investigation, it was found out that Yalung is bleeding his parish with millions of pesos to lavish Rances with a brand-new car, an exclusive apartment and to top it all up – a fattened multi-million bank account.

This scandal stirred the murky waters of Philippine Catholicism even murkier. The Vatican pushed the panic button on Bishop Yalung despite Cardinal Sin’s lavish accord to him and to his other sinning bishops.

Eventually, Rances and Yalung reared two children. And the tumultuous waters of their relationship did not end there yet. Their relationship was littered with squabbles, arguments and impending lawsuits that sealed the demise of their relationship since 2002. Yalung is no longer in service and is in exile to the US.

Follow Bishop Crisostomo Yalung’s detailed story Here »

Top 10 Filipino Catholic Bishops and Their Scandals
Source: YouTube

5. Bishop Jesse Mercado

Bishop Jesse Mercado’s major shares in the clerical hall of shame is his mishandling of church funds and the funds intended for the calamity victims. When one time he is into some inquisitive interview with one of the best journalists in town that goes by the name Aries Rufo, he obstinately refused to give clear cut and linear answer to the journalist’s questions. And it goes…

Rufo: So when I will request for all the receipts of the donations and the disbursements, you will give these to me?

Mercado: That depends. What for? Why are you asking for that?

Rufo: You’re challenging the story [that I had written], that it’s not true. So if I will ask for all the donations received for all the calamity victims and all the disbursements, will you be able to give these to me

Mercado: I think we have the right to ask also. Why?

Rufo: For publication.

Mercado: What for?

Rufo: For transparency.

Mercado: What for? What for? What for?

Rufo: For transparency.

Mercado: Are we required to present these to you? Why are we required to present these to you?

Rufo: Are you telling me that you won’t give these to me

Mercado: No, I’m not telling you that. But why are you asking for it?

Rufo: For transparency, Bishop.

Mercado: What do you mean by transparency? Do we need to be transparent to you

Rufo: That’s the issue within your diocese—financial transparency.

Mercado: My answer is, we can be transparent. We have people and …

Rufo: Can you just make a categorical statement that you will give the documents to me

Mercado: It depends. I have the right to ask, why do you want it?

Though the engagement did not went so well, you could not help but notice the bishop blowing his gasket.

Another untoward stance incurred by the bishop is when he let one of his priests/religious, by the name of Reverend Bayani Valenzuela, went off the hook despite the plunder he committed in both the parish funds and the parochial school’s coffer. The loot paid for Bayani’s prodigal escapades including five-star hotel accommodations, expensive meals and premium gym membership.

Bayani is just one example of the many delinquent priests where Bishop Mercado has spared his rod. But the most telling of all is Mercado’s mishandling of the calamity funds collected for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy, Sendong, fire victims in Muntinlupa, Haiti earthquake and so on. His rationale is that there is enough gift in-kind donations to go around, so there is no need to spend millions of donations. While it sounds logical, the Canon Law states that whatever the church received for the purpose of calamity alleviation should be given all for that purpose – no ifs or buts.

Top 10 Filipino Catholic Bishops and Their Scandals
Source: CBCP News

6. Bishop Jaime Cardinal Sin

Jaime Cardinal Sin was the predecessor of the late cardinal and financial genius, Rufino Cardinal Santos. It was during the time of Cardinal Sin that the bylaws on the Separation of Church and state is just another lowly doormat under his feet. He is notoriously known for his obstinate political engagement and blatant support for the ouster of politicians in position. EDSA 1 and 2 are just few of his major hallmark in stirring political waters into evicting the nation’s highest leaders the likes of Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada.

It was also during the time of Cardinal Sin that a dismal bankruptcy of Church-owned bank Monte De Piedad happened. It was known that Cardinal Sin deployed financial confidant (fellow bishops such as Cirilo and Buhain) to manage the bank operations. Being trained theologians and not financial experts, the bank nosedive into financial mayhem in the mid-1990s, specifically in 1996 when the said bankruptcy was broiling hot on media’s cauldron. Major loaning programs have made the bank bleed to its economic failure. This includes loans to tricycle drivers and teachers, disadvantageous land deals, and other not so feasible banking business operations to the point of no return.

Despite all these, Cardinal Sin unscathed, took his flunking financial cohorts to ran financially affluent parishes, again!

Cardinal Sin is easy to condemn erring politicians and civilians, but richly relenting to his sinning deciples despite knowing that their moral and spiritual responsibility or irresponsibility comes with greater price to pay.

If Cardinal Sin is a bluff when it comes to finances, Cardinal Rufino Santos is a financial wizard in clothe. He established the now long-airing Radio Veritas. Santos is a good real estate negotiator that made the Catholic church cached large spans of real estate even before the major land reform was initiated. The now Cardinal Santos Medical Center is just one of Cardinal Santos’ major laurels when in come to his financial wit as opposed to Cardinal Sin.

Top 10 Filipino Catholic Bishops and Their Scandals
Source: Rappler

7. Bishop Teodoro Buhain

Buhain is very instrumental in the downfall of Monte De Piedad. His loan program never took off and return nothing to the bank. Among others, he also managed Radio Veritas where millions of pesos have been blown in the wind and remained unaccounted for. After his stint with Monte De Piedad, as if his former fiscal flop isn’t enough, he was assigned into one of the most financially affluent parish again, the Quiapo Parish.

Concomitant to the assassination of the then senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983, through Radio Veritas, Buhain was able to raise 1 million pesos. And with the added help of the then princess of the church, Corazon Aquino, using Radio Veritas, the church was able to raise a debatable amount from 20 million up to a 100 million. But Buhain sealed it with his 18 million final recount. This again, under Buhain’s personal ledger was shadowed with controversy as to where and when the money went into.

Before Buhain bowed down from the church he was investigated by the Vatican for allegedly fathering a child from a Radio Veritas employee. Buhain denied this, saying that her child was conceived through artificial insemination. He even asked Cardinal sin to to sign his affidavit pointing him as spotless against the accusations.  If you can usually catch a fish through its mouth, Buhain in some instances had a slip catching him then.

Top 10 Filipino Catholic Bishops and Their Scandals
Source: Flickr

8. Bishop Diosdado Talamayan

Talamayan is a retired Tuguegarao bishop who is an official member of the “Malacañang Diocese” during the time of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Talamayan is a self-appointed bell-ringer of former president Arroyo especially during the impeachment proceedings done against her. Talamayan is seen pressed again his phone constantly updating someone about how the pastoral statement is taking shape. And you can just guess who is the beloved beneficiary at the end of the line.

As honorary lapdog, Talamayan led group of North Luzon bishops to virtually serve as foothold at the door of Malacañang to safeguard Arroyo against the broiling impeachment proceeding in lieu of the botched $321 million ZTE Broadband deal. They stated, “As ministers of the Church, it is not our prerogative to support the call for the President’s resignation.”

In gratitude, Arroyo showered Talamayan with goodness of a brand-new hot wheels. He was also appointed as the president’s right-hand-man in appointing key governmental positions. And Leonardo Leonida (Commission on Elections) can just thank him after that. This lobbying is so elaborate that he was monumental in appointing Chief Justice such as Jose Mendoza in to that crucial post.

He retired in 2011 but his undying admiration to Arroyo went just beyond the throne. He acted as her spiritual adviser too.

Top 10 Filipino Catholic Bishops and Their Scandals
Source: UCA News

9. Bishop Juan De Dios Pueblos

Butuan bishop De Dios Pueblos is an avid member of the “Malacañang Diocese.” In the heat of the NBN-ZTE Deal scandal, he served as one of Arroyo’s firewall. Seconding Talamayan, he polled other 18 bishops in Mindanao to stand ground against Arroyo’s impeachment.

In his 66th birthday, he brazenly asked Arroyo a brand-new 4×4 sports utility vehicle. “I hope you will not fail to give me a brand-new car which will serve as your birthday gift to me”, Talamayan said. He reasoned that he will use the car for his apostolic mission to far flung areas of Mindanao. Arroyo referred the request to the PCSO who funded the purchase worth P1.7 million.

Pueblos has his own skimp of political middling when he criticized Benigno Aquino III during his political campaign saying, “the Aquino scion is not worthy to become president and the earlier he will be out of his post, will be better for the Philippines.” De Dios Pueblos is part and parcel of the Arroyo PCSO Vehicle scandal involving the Philippine bishops.

Top 10 Filipino Catholic Bishops and Their Scandals
Source: CBCP Online

10. Bishop Ramon Villena

A Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya Bishop Ramon Villena and a reliable aide of Arroyo, he was appointed as Regional Development Council chair in Cagayan Valley during her term. Villena was noted for his untoward solicitation of funding from Arroyo during his fellow bishops held seminar in Baguio city. The funding is said to cater and pay for the hotel accommodation of the bishops worth P100,000. And the money was once again bled out from the PCSO funding.


Top 10 Filipino Catholic Bishops and Their Scandals
Source: Varsitarian

11. Bishop Jose Oliveros

Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros’ most noted insolent show off of his character is when he morally and emotionally beleaguered a nun commissioned to duly help him and his parish by the name Sister Maria Rita Rama. The central concern of the issues was the “Lost Pectoral Cross” – the big cross worn by the bishop during ecclesiastical services.

Sister Rita’s plight began when in October 2010 Malolos Chancery underwent certain renovations. Olivero’s personal effects and items need to be transferred to a temporary safekeeping. And the logistics are overseen by Sister Rita. Through the hustle and bustle of the renovation, one item is lost on the way to keeping the bishops’ items, and that is the pectoral cross who have been said to cost P500,000. And how such item cost that much, you just can guess. But the bishop is actually putting his best foot forward in anticipation of a promotion from the Vatican. Oliveros presumed that he would replace the retiring Cebu Archbishop Jose Vidal.

And why Sister Maria Rita Rama found herself in the service of bishop Oliveros, just like any other bishop’s residences, nuns are being commissioned to do service for the residing bishop such as food preparation, laundry, house cleaning and other needs. Sister Rita came from the Divine Shepherd Congregation.

When Oliveros found out that the priced cross was not in it is rightful place despite no signs of break-in, he confronted Sister Rita. The nun refuted, but Oliveros insisted and even used reverse psychology to incur to her thoughts saying, “I know you were only tempted to do it out of poverty.” Sister Rita felt her fresh wounds were littered with salt.

Bringing the situation to the next level, Oliveros sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). She was then subjected to casual civilian interrogation. They took her mugshot. The investigation tolled into Sister Rita’s hapless emotional sanity, derogated her dignity as a nun whose point of interest is only to be a harbinger of God’s goodwill through their service to His higher-ups.

Through the backings of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, Sister Rita was able to painstaking breakthrough her ordeals.

Later on, Oliveros announced that he already found the cross remembering where he placed it. In February 16, 2012, Oliveros issued an “apology” but not that he was wrong, according to him but out of what he called “Christian charity” which he only knew what that means.

Anyway, Oliveros was not appointed as Archbishop of Cebu as he was expecting, but Jaro Archbishop Jose Palma took the throne instead.   

Sister Rita left her vocation as a nun of the Divine Shepherd Congregation and already living as a lay person since December 2011.

This list is abridge. There could be more.

We do not condone nor condemn them for as long as human despicability is concerned. But when a religious individual take a vow in front of humanity evoking God as eternal witness and promised to guard it with their whole being, they might be as well taking into their shoulders unwarranted responsibility. As we have witnessed, vows whatever it is and whoever the witnesses are, are made to be broken.

References: Altar Of Secrets – Sex, Politics and Money In the Philippine Catholic Church – Aries C. Rufo.  Learn More » 



Author's Corner

Sweet, I blame you not, for mine the fault was, had I not been made of common clay. I had climbed the higher heights unclimbed yet, seen the fuller air, the larger day. From the wildness of my wasted passion I had struck a better, clearer song, Lit some lighter light of freer freedom, battled with some Hydra-headed wrong. – Oscar Wilde

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