MANILA, August 7, 2013— Catholic priests in Pampanga province were told to exercise greater vigilance after thieves swiped old bells from a church recently.

San Fernando Auxiliary Bishop Pablo David said strengthened security measure must be enforced to secure valuables inside churches.

“We just alerted priests to be more vigilant,” David said.

Two church bells have been taken from a small church in Barangay San Vincente in Bacolor town recently.

The bells were said to be instrumental in alerting thousands of residents in the village to evacuate the area from lahar flows after Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991.

The Archdiocese of Pampanga is known for its several historic churches that are considered as national treasures.

David said incidents of church bells being stolen is not new in the archdiocese, saying this also happened in the past in several parishes such as Angeles, Magalang and Porac.

Fr. Genaro Diwa, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Commission on Liturgy, said that old church bells are often being targeted by thieves “because of their antiquity and because they are made of bronze.”

In the Diocese of Malolos, parishes have already took intensified security measures to protect the church’s important properties.

“We have no more problems with our church bells. We just strengthened our security and announced to the people to be alert, especially in barangay chapels,” Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said. (CBCPNews)