Cebu News

Garcia hopes NMP returns pulpit panels the soonest

Le Phyllis F. Antojado-Orillaneda - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia hopes that the four pulpit panels belonging to the Nuestra Señora de Patrocinio de Maria Parish in Boljoon town will be returned at the soonest time possible by the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP).

The governor expressed her hopes after Andoni Aboitiz, chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the NMP, wrote a letter to Garcia informing her of the NMP’s decision to return the pulpit panels to the people of Boljoon.

The letter did not provide the details when the panels will be returned to Boljoon parish.

 “I’m just waiting, pretty soon I will be asking Archbishop (Jose) Palma… I will be asking the people of Boljoon,” Garcia said.

 “I hope they will return that soon, I hope that was not just a matter of reacting to the news in the morning so that they would be cleared or at least they will be a little safer,” she added.

Garcia stressed the need for these panels to be returned to its rightful owner quoting Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma’s letter saying, these panels have not been deconsecrated.

 “I told Andoni nga this could be a signal ba, nga if you return these, this will become a signal to all those who have looted and are now in possession of religious icons, religious artifacts that have not been deconsecrated, as far as the church is concerned, taking off from the letter of Archbishop Palma nga ang tanan nga wala ma deconsecrate, you are committing a sacrilege everyday,” Garcia said.

It was in the 1980s when these pulpit panels were stolen from Nuestra Señora de Patrocinio de Maria Parish in Boljoon. Years later the panels were found at NMP after private collectors donated them to the museum.

News of its donation prompted local officials in Cebu, particularly in Boljoon, and the church to ask for the return of these religious items back to their church.

 “These panels have to be returned kay ang mga tawo, also naay sense of ownership, not to say nga ila na nga personal but it is part of their stories, it (is) part of their history. It is part of why Boljoon church is as beautiful as it is, but it used to be more beautiful until the looters came in,” Garcia said. (CEBU NEWS)

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