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Cebu Province renews plea for return of church pulpit panels

By John Rey Saavedra

CEBU CITY – Cebu has once again emphasized its plea for the prompt return of the four pulpit panels from Boljoon town’s church, emphasizing their cultural significance, which the provincial government aims to preserve.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia stated that the initial letter sent by the provincial government to the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) remained unanswered. Consequently, she dispatched another letter reiterating the province’s stance concerning the four religious-cultural artifacts that went missing in the 1980s.

These panels are integral to the cultural, historical, and religious heritage of our province. Our letter extended a formal invitation. This visit underscores the panel’s comparable connection to Boljoanons’ identity,” Garcia said.

The panels form part of the pulpit of Boljoon’s centuries-old Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio de Maria Parish Church.

The original design has a total of six panels but the fifth is under the care of the church’s priests while the sixth is still missing.

Sometime in the late 1980s, the panels went missing, with locals raising suspicions including looting or selling without the permission of the Archdiocese of Cebu.

The whereabouts of the 19th-century panels went unknown until the province discovered in February this year that the panels were added to the collection unveiled at the NMP in Manila.

Garcia said she wants to meet with NMP officials and with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma to discuss the panels’ return to the church.

During the press conference, legal officers of the Cebu provincial government hinted possible filing of administrative and criminal charges if the panels are left unreturned. (PNA)

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