Laymen running in village polls must quit from church duties

MANILA — The Diocese of Cubao has reminded officials and members of any church organization that they should resign from their positions if they will run in the May 14 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

In a pastoral letter signed by Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, the diocese issued guidelines for village and youth polls aspirants from church groups.

“Incumbent officers or member of any Church organization, who are running for elective position, shall be considered resigned from their respective positions effective upon the filing their Certificate of Candidacy (COC),” it said.

“Those who lost during the election may opt to apply to go back to their previous positions but subject to the approval of the Parish Priest,” the letter added.

Ongtioco noted that those who will be elected and wish to still serve the parish, will be accepted as member but cannot serve as officer. “Their application to continue serving the parish is subject to the approval of the Parish priest.”

“This policy also covers the youth (who are officers/members of the Parish Youth Ministry) who are also running for position in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) election,” the statement added.

Despite this, Ongtioco said the church supports the plans of the lay people to serve in the government.

“The encouraging number of lay faithful in the Diocese who have signified their intention to seek for elective position is a welcome development as this is in line with the mission of the Church to renew the political affairs according to Gospel principles and values,” part of the letter said.

At the same time, Ontiongco noted that they issued the guidelines so as to prevent the notion that the people of the church might use it for partisan politics.

“While we encourage this development, we also wish to guard the Church against possible accusation of critics for undue advantage of lay candidates who might be perceived of using the Church for partisan exercise,” he added.

The period for COC filing for the village polls started on April 14 and will end on April 20.

The Commission on Elections reported that as of Wednesday, a total of 305,082 COCs had been filed since the start of the filing period.