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Tarlac bishop dies of cardiac arrest

MANILA, Philippines — The Bishop of Tarlac, Most Rev. Enrique V. Macaraeg, D.D., suffered a cardiac arrest while playing basketball in Malasiqui town, Pangasinan. He was 67.

A video of the last moments of the bishop quickly went viral on social media.

The Diocesan Commission on Social Communications of the Diocese of Tarlac requested the public to stop sharing the video in respect of the family’s late bishop.

“There is a video that is going viral showing Bp. Macaraeg’s last moments. In respect to the family and to Bp. Macaraeg, please refrain from sharing. Advise others also to just keep it private and not post it publicly on their walls,” the announcement posted on the diocesan commission’s Facebook page read.

Macaraeg’s remains lie in state at the San Sebastian Cathedral in Tarlac City. The diocese has not announced any funeral plans yet.

Macaraeg is the second incumbent Roman Catholic bishop heading a diocese to die in office. 

Diocese of Gumaca Bishop Victor Ocampo died on his 71st birthday on March 16 after suffering a heart attack.

Bishop Macaraeg was born in Manila on Dec. 28, 1955. He finished his philosophical and theological studies at the University of Santo Tomas Central Seminary in Manila. He later earned his Master of Arts in Oriental Religions and Cultures.

Macaraeg was ordained priest of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan in 1979. He was concurrently Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan and parish priest of Saint Ildefonse Parish in Malasiqui town when Pope Francis appointed him as the third bishop of Tarlac in 2016 to replace retired Bishop Florentino Cinense.  

At the time of his death, he was also chairman of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

With Macaraeg’s death, the Philippines has seven vacant sees or in Catholic parlance sede vacante (Latin for “empty chair”) dioceses.

The Diocese of Alaminos has no bishop since October 2019 after Bishop Ricardo Baccay was appointed archbishop of Tuguegarao.

Before Macaraeg’s death, five dioceses were added to the list of vacant sees this year.

On March 3, Bishop Victor Bendico left Baguio to become the new archbishop of Capiz.