By Christina Hermoso
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Bureau of Immigration recently signed a memorandum of agreement aimed at assisting foreign missionaries in the country.
Signed by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of the CBCP – Episcopal Commission on Mutual Relations (ECMR) and Deputy Immigration Commissioner Tobias Javier, the MoA actually
served as a ‘renewal’ of the first agreement, which was signed by former Immigration Commissioner Edgar Mendoza and Bishop Carlito Cenzon on November 10, 1997.
A CBCP News post said CBCP and Immigration Bureau “recognize that foreign Catholic missionaries have contributed immensely to the moral and human development
of the citizenry, particularly the poor, the youth, the handicapped, and the less privileged of society.”
They also acknowledged the missionaries’ dedication “by devoting their lives and resources in the performance of their vocation for the moral and spiritual uplift of Filipinos in various communities.”
The agreement came about after missionaries expressed concern on various issues affecting the issuance of missionary visas and extension “which create some difficulties in the
pursuit of their mission,” the CBCP report said.
CBCP president and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles and Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, CBCP vice president witnessed the important event.
Set up on 1968, the ECMR handles the CBCP Visa Desk that assists and endorses Catholic foreign missionaries, religious and lay persons for their visa applications and official dealings with the BI. It is also tasked to coordinate and unite the purposes and programs of the bishops and the religious superiors in the country.