BACOLOD City – Businessman Roberto Montelibano said he is open to helping settle the rift between St. John Institute (SJI) and the Diocese of Bacolod over the Queen of Peace Parish Church which has been reverted into a chapel.
Montelibano, who served as spokesman of their family, said he wanted to set the record straight publicly as regards their family’s role and that of Capitol Subdivision in the donation of lots to SJI, popularly known as “Hua Ming”.
The donated lots are the location of the school and the disputed church.
Montelibano recalled that it was the founding Chinese priests, Monsignors John Liu and John Su, and Chinese community leaders who came to see their family seeking to ask for a lot on which to establish the school and chapel.
Montelibano’s statement, in effect, belied the claim of the Bacolod diocese that it was the one facilitated the donation.
He also explained that the deed of donations covering the two lots were only temporarily turned over to the Diocese of Bacolod during the administrations of Bishop Manuel Yap and Monsignor Antonio Fortich, because “at that time, many of the Chinese community leaders and the two priests were not yet recognized as naturalized Filipinos, and were therefore not allowed to own properties.”
The businessman confirmed that when SJI was finally incorporated, a third deed of donation, which superseded the first two deeds entrusted to the diocese, was issued to SJI and was even signed and attested to by Diocesan leaders which later became the basis of the land titles covering the entire school compound under the name of SJI.
Montelibano pointed out that their family’s original intent in donating the properties was for the establishment of the school and the chapel.
“We believe that Hua Ming has stayed true to that intent and will continue to do so as it had in the past 60 years,” he stressed.
Montelibano added that as long as there is no mediator between the diocese and SJI, he would rather see the church closed first.
“We would like to open it as a chapel for the school, and a chapel that is open to the public on weekends and holy days. That is how it operated for many years,” Montelibano said.
Montelibano also aired concern on the safety of the children enrolled in the school and it is the reason why they wanted the gates closed.
Montelibano cited as example the University of St. La Salle (USLS), in which “you can’t just enter the university’s premises even if the individual only wants to attend church services in their chapel.”
He also said both side’s decision to de-parish the church on May 31, would give the opportunity for both sides to “cool off” and find a reasonable solution.