By Ian Ocampo Flora
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David on Friday expressed his dismay over the lack of investigation on stolen ivory image of the Child Jesus in Betis, which has been recently recovered and returned by a certain antique collector who purchased it in Manila.
“Unfortunately walang masyadong investigation na nagawa kase nga niransom nga. I would have wanted to the police to really get involved in this but as of the moment naibalik na, na restore yon ang mahalaga,” David said.
It could be remembered that a certain Tom Joven allegedly tracked down the revered image of Child Jesus of Virgen de la Correa through his network of collector-friends. He allegedly eventually purchased the ivory parts, minus the wooden body, for P170,000.
The image was reportedly stolen during the Betis district’s feast day. It was however sketchy how the images was in fact stolen and how it was tracked down from an alleged antique dealer as there is yet to be any formal police report or investigation on the matter.
No suspects have been charged as of this posting despite the pronouncements of the Guagua police that it will continue to investigate the incident.
“But there was an exchange of money and I have a heavy heart on that because I believe we should stop the trafficking of religious items,” David added.
David also confirmed that the Saint James the Apostle Parish has been doing second collections in their masses to raise funds for the “ransom” paid for the image.
With this, David said that he encourages parish with religious treasures of national and cultural value to safeguard their images. He also added that he is pushing for parishes to place closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in their premises to discourage theft.
“Parishes may also opt to have their religious treasures kept in the Archdiocesan museum,” David added.
David is also pushing for the reinstitution of the camerero system, wherein religious images are entrusted unto the care of a Roman Catholic family for safekeeping and maintenance. The camarero will be responsible in maintaining the assets of the religious icon and in bring it out for public veneration or processions.
“The camarero system should be there to help the local church. The Church can enter into a memorandum of agreement with the camarero to secure the item and to ensure that it remains the property of the community,” David added.