MANILA - The Diocese of Sorsogon suspended one of its priests for seeking an electoral position in the upcoming 2022 polls.
In a circular dated April 4 but released publicly on Wednesday, Bishop Jose Alan Dialogo announced the suspension of Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Alparce, who is running for municipal councilor of Bacacay, Albay.
Under Canon Law, the code of ecclesiastical laws governing the Catholic Church, priests are "forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power."
As such, Alparce is suspended from performing his priestly ministry, including presiding over the celebration of Holy Mass and other sacraments except those dictated by Canon Law.
Dialogo explained that Alparce was given until March 25 to withdraw his candidacy so that sanctions will be avoided.
"He has been warned that if he does not reform and continue to give scandal, because of his participation to the local elections, he can be progressively punished by deprivations, or even by dismissal from the clerical state," the bishop said.
One of the most controversial cases of a priest running for public office in the Philippines was Among Ed Panlilio of the Archdiocese of San Fernando. He was elected governor of Pampanga in 2007, beating Mark Lapid and Lilia Pineda, a known ally of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
However, following a recount due to an electoral protest, the Comelec declared that it was Panlilio who won in the 2007 elections.
Then Archbishop Paciano Aniceto suspended Panlilio for disobeying his order not to run for public office. But the priest eventually gave in to the appeal of supporters and several sectors, who were seeking to change the course of traditional politics in the province.
In 2010, Panlilio challenged Pineda to the gubernatorial seat but again lost his bid.
It was in 2013 when the priest tried again his luck in politics, but he lost again to Pineda in the race for the same post.