By Rommel F. Lopez

Bishop Pablo Virgilo David of the Diocese of Kalookan visits prisoners at Caloocan City Jail

Did the Philippine National Police (PNP) just refer to Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David as “archbishop”?

Apparently, they did.

In the PNP-CIDG’s complaint filed with the Department of Justice, David is mentioned as “archbishop” when in fact he is a bishop.

Technically, an archbishop is also a bishop.  But what makes a bishop an archbishop is that he is appointed by the pope to head an archdiocese.

In the case of David, he heads the Diocese of Kalookan which is a suffragan diocese, or a diocese that forms the ecclesiastical province of Manila, with the Archdiocese of Manila being the mother diocese.

The dioceses that form the Manila Ecclesiastical Province are: Antipolo (comprises the entire province of Rizal and the City of Marikina); Cubao (comprises the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Districts of Quezon City, except Old Balara, Camp Aguinaldo, and an area in Ugong Norte); Imus (comprises the entire province of Cavite); Kalookan (comprises the southern part of Caloocan City and the cities of Malabon and Navotas); Malolos (comprises the entire province of Bulacan and the City of Valenzuela); Novaliches (comprises the 2nd, 5th, and 6th Districts of Quezon City including Old Balara and the northern part of Caloocan City; Pasig (comprises the cities of Pasig and Taguig and the municipality of Pateros); Parañaque (comprises the cities of Las Piñas, Muntinlupa and Parañaque); and San Pablo (which covers the whole province of Laguna).

There are archbishops who do not head an archdiocese but are give  the title of archbishop, such as the case with apostolic nuncios or the Pope’s ambassadors. These titles are usually for titular sees or technically dead or extinct archdioceses that used to exist in an area that was once populated by Catholics. 

For example, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Gabriele Caccia is an archbishop even though he is not the head of an archdiocese. He is the archbishop of the titular see of Sepino, a municipality in Italy. The diocese ceased to exist in 844. So as “head” of an extinct diocese, the Church hopes that the bishops of titular sees pray for the revival of the diocese.

So, Bishop David is the head of a diocese. He is not an archbishop.

The gaffe seems to have stemmed from the sworn affidavit of Jomar Advincula, aka Bikoy, who claimed to be the person behind the viral YouTube video series “Ang Totoong Narcolist” that accuses Duterte and his family as behind the illegal drug trade in the country.

But are titles really that important especially in a criminal proceeding?

Yes it does, according to San Beda Graduate School of Law Dean Rodel Taton.

“This could affect the complaint as Bikoy cannot even identify him really by calling him archbishop when he is not.”

Taton, who is also a columnist, said even a wrong spelling in the name of the person being accused might refer to a different person.  He said Bishop David’s legal team could use this as a good defense.