By Leslie Aquino
Priests were discouraged from running in the May 2019 midterm polls.
Bishop Buenaventura Famadico, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Clergy, reminded priests who are planning to enter politics that this is not part of their task.
“The task of a priest is to spread God’s word, guide the faithful. Let us leave the task of serving in government to the laity because if we do that it is as if we have failed in our task if we have to take over the role of the laity,” he said in an interview.
Asked if he already heard of any priest planning to enter the political arena, the San Pablo, Laguna prelate answered negatively.
“I dont know of any (priest planning to run),” said Famadico.
But, he said if any of his priests will ask for permission to run he will not allow them.
“I will not allow them,” Famadico said.
Other prelates are also against the idea of priests running for elective posts.
“I am definitely against it, and never I will allow any of my priests to run for any elective office,” Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said.
Priests, he said cannot serve “two masters.”
“We cannot serve two masters,” said Santos.
“As a priest, we are already serving the people, and we serve without any perk, privileges nor personal interests. Priests are for and only for God,” he added.
Priests running for political offices, Santos said betray their divine calling.
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said priests entering politics is not allowed by Church Laws.
“Never. This is against Canon Law,” he said.
Church law states that priests are not allowed to run in the elections or accepting an office that includes the exercise of civil power.
Catholic priests seeking government elective posts are not new in Philippine politics as there were already different attempts of priests in the past to be in public office.
Take for example Fr. Eddie Panlilio, who was suspended from his priestly duties when he ran and won as governor of Pampanga in 2007. The priest-turned politician failed to finish his term because he was removed from his post in February 2010 following a recount of votes due to an election protest.
The Commission on Elections has set the filing of certificate of candidacy for next year’s polls from October 11 to 17 except Saturday and Sunday.