Fr Romeo Intengan, priest exiled during Marcos years, dies at 74

Paterno Esmaquel II
Fr Romeo Intengan, priest exiled during Marcos years, dies at 74
(UPDATED) The former head of the Philippine Jesuits, Father Romeo Intengan, is 'dead on arrival' at the Quirino Hospital a week before his birthday

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Jesuit priest Father Romeo Intengan, a clergyman exiled during the Marcos dictatorship, died on Tuesday, October 10.

Father Antonio Moreno, head of the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits, confirmed this in a text message to Rappler on Tuesday.

Moreno said Intengan was “DOA,” or dead on arrival, “when he arrived at Quirino Hospital at 6:30 am” on Tuesday. 

The Jesuit provincial said he “asked the doctor to stop the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), applied 10 times already, after consulting Fr Tex Paurom,” a Jesuit medical doctor.

“May he rest in peace,” Moreno said. 

Intengan died 8 days before his 75th birthday on October 18.

Sudden death

In a memo, the Office of the Jesuit Provincial said that Intengan “died quite suddenly” on Tuesday morning, after he “suffered cardiac arrest while being brought to the hospital.” 

Intengan’s wake begins on Tuesday evening at the Oratory of Saint Ignatius of the Loyola House of Studies in the Ateneo de Manila University. 

Daily wake Masses will be held at 8 pm, until he is buried on Saturday, October 14.

The funeral Mass is tentatively set at 8 am on Saturday in the Oratory of Saint Ignatius. The schedule, however, “may need to be adjusted pending the arrival of the family from the US.” 

Intengan will be buried at the Sacred Heart Novitiate Jesuit Cemetery in Novaliches, Quezon City, after his funeral Mass.

Opposing Marcos

A priest for 40 years, Intengan was also a doctor of medicine, having finished this course at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1965.

He also studied theology at the Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid.

He would later on specialize in Christian social ethics, as well as medical and sexual ethics. 

Then, from 1998 to 2004, Intengan served as head of the Philippine Jesuits, the religious order that runs the Ateneo network of schools in the Philippines.

In the national scene, Intengan became prominent because of the Marcos dictatorship.

With Norberto Gonzales, Intengan co-founded the Philippine Democratic Socialist Party (PDSP) in 1973, according to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

Both Intengan and Gonzales “would be thrown in jail in 1978 for leading a march protesting the fraudulent elections held in April that year,” the PCIJ said.

Two years later, Intengan had to flee the country.

“Using false papers, Father Intengan had left the Philippines in 1980 shortly after then-president Marcos accused him of masterminding, for the PDSP, a wave of bombings in hotels, supermarkets and other public places,” reported the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN).

His profile on the Ateneo de Manila website said that Intengan “was active in the democratic opposition” during the Marcos regime.

“Together with some fellow social democrats in the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP), he spent December 1980 to February 1982 at the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) camp at Dyampirás, Sungai Besar, Sandakan District, East Malaysia,” his Ateneo profile said.

Deep love for country

Father Silvino Borres Jr, rector of the Loyola House of Studies, remembers Intengan as having an “iconic status” among young Jesuits because he was “a prominent figure in the fight against the dictatorship.”

“No doubt about it, the experience that he went through revealed really a deep love for his country. And this love for his country never wavered,” Borres said.

“On some of his political positions, we Jesuits did not agree very much with him, but you cannot say of him that he did not love his country,” he added.

He pointed, too, that as for other leaders, “their commitment and their passion for their country kind of waned over the years.”

As for Intengan, Borres said, “the same passion and zeal had remained with him to his last dying day.” –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at