Filipino bishops

New Antipolo bishop is outspoken prelate who called Duterte a ‘disgrace’

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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New Antipolo bishop is outspoken prelate who called Duterte a ‘disgrace’

NEW ASSIGNMENT. Bishop Ruperto Santos, formerly of Balanga, Bataan, is the incoming bishop of Antipolo.

File photo by CBCP News

The new bishop of Antipolo, Ruperto Santos, is a native of San Rafael, Bulacan who was ordained a priest by Jaime Cardinal Sin in 1983

MANILA, Philippines – Bishop Ruperto Santos, an outspoken prelate who had no qualms about calling Rodrigo Duterte a “disgrace,” is set to lead one of the Catholic Church’s most populous dioceses in the Philippines.

Pope Francis on Tuesday, April 24, appointed Santos as the new bishop of Antipolo after Bishop Francisco de Leon resigned from office. De Leon had reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 on June 11, 2022.

The Diocese of Antipolo covers not only the city of Antipolo, but the whole province of Rizal and the whole of Marikina City. Carved out of the Archdiocese of Manila in 1983, the diocese is composed of more than 3.3 million Catholics.

Before the Pope moved him to Antipolo, the 65-year-old Santos had been the bishop of Balanga, Bataan – a post previously held by Archbishop Socrates Villegas – for nearly 13 years. 

The new Antipolo bishop was born in San Rafael, Bulacan on October 30, 1957. He studied philosophy and theology at San Carlos Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood by then-Manila archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin on September 10, 1983. 

He earned his licentiate in history from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1990, and later became a church history professor at San Carlos Seminary and rector of the Pontificio Collegio Filippino (PCF), home of Filipino priests studying in Rome. He now serves as chairman of the Episcopal Commission on the PCF of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Santos is one of the most vocal bishops when it comes to sociopolitical issues. 

In January 2019, criticizing Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, Santos said, “His presidency is disappointment and disgrace to our country. It is known as ‘kill, kill, kill.’ And we totally speak, stand against it.” This prompted Malacañang to respond that Santos “should pray for the President instead.”

In several instances, Santos also led the Diocese of Balanga in condemning plans to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) – which was completed under the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and shelved by former president Corazon Aquino. The dictator’s son, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is now considering reviving the BNPP.

He is also one of the most active bishops in caring for Filipino migrants. He is vice chair of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People of the CBCP. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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