MANILA -- Priests gave permission for a forum inside a church that was interrupted by a quarrel between siblings Abigail and Junjun Binay, who are both running for Makati mayor, organizers said Sunday.
During Saturday's forum at San Ildefonso Church in Makati, Abigail called on her opponents to stop spreading lies. After returning to her seat beside Junjun, Abby appeared to be talking angrily to her younger brother.
Both then raised their voices, with Junjun later standing up and kneeling in front of Abby. Their father former Vice President Jejomar Binay, and Makati Police chief Pablo Simon, tried to pacify the siblings.
Junjun later said he was upset at how the forum turned out, drawing cheers and boos from the crowd, who were told by police to leave the venue.
Election forums have been held inside churches even before, in a bid to encourage good behavior among candidates, noted Dr. Arwin Serrano of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).
“Para mas behaved sila. [It is] also considered a church activity because we are opening to parishioners and we start and close with a prayer,” he told ABS-CBN News.
Serrano said the forum was approved not just by the parish priest but the whole vicariate of priests.
"In fact, nandoon sila. Hindi lang sabay-sabay dumating," he said.
(They were there. They just did not arrive together.)
The Blessed Sacrament, which refers to the body and blood of Christ in the form of consecrated bread and wine, was not compromised by the spat between the Binay siblings, added Serrano.
“Kahit anong occasion or invited guests, kami hindi ine-expose ang Blessed Sacrament,” he said.
(Regardless of the occasion or invited gusts, we don't expose the Blessed Sacrament.)
The PPCRV will still hold election forums inside churches, but the election watchdog hopes participants will strictly observe rules, he said.
Abigail and Junjun have apologized for their altercation, which they said was spawned by "violent" and "hurtful" comments.