Priest removes habit after officiating mass, declares candidacy

Priest removes habit after officiating mass, declares candidacy

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -– Vicar General Monsignor Jemar Vera Cruz of the Diocese of the Roman Catholics in Iligan City stunned mass goers when he announced he is running for vice mayor after the Thursday mass at the St. Peter’s Cathedral there.

Msgr. Vera Cruz was officiating the Holy Mass, which was aired live on local radio, when he made the declaration to be the running mate of detained City Mayor Celso Regencia under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) political party.

After the mass, Vera Cruz removed his priestly vestments or habit and wore a civilian attire before the astounded parishioners who then incessantly clapped and cheered in approval.

Vera Cruz said that he was compelled to run for an elective post to help in eradicating graft and corruption and introduce reforms in the affairs of the government.

The officials and members of the Diocese of Iligan City expressed full support to the decision of Vera Cruz.

“Msgr. Vera Cruz is on official leave and his decision to join the political fray has the blessing of the Roman Catholic Church,” a priest said.

Vera Cruz’s running mate for the mayoral post, detained incumbent City Mayor Celso Regencia, is facing three counts of murder and four counts of frustrated murder.

Regencia was indicted in connection with the ambush of Rep. Vicente “Varf” Belmonte of Iligan City’s lone congressional district, whose convoy was waylaid by unidentified armed men while on their way home to Iligan City last December 2014.

Regencia went hiding after a trial court issued a warrant for his arrest two months ago, but surrendered last Monday purposely to file a certificate of candidacy for reelection in the 2016 local elections.

Regencia’s wife filed his CoC together with Vera Cruz, and lawyer Alipio Badelles for Congress on Thursday under the NPC political party.

The Liberal Party (LP) is fielding Rep. Belmonte as the standard bearer for city mayor in Iligan City. Belmonte is currently serving his last term. (Cris Diaz/PNA)