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Church workers told to quit if they run in elections

MANILA (UCAN): Any Church worker or Church organisation official running for office in Philippine local village and youth elections on May 14 will be considered as having resigned from their post, Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao, Metro Manila, has warned.
In a pastoral letter issued in the third week of April, the bishop said that in order to prevent allegations of undue advantage or perceptions that the institution will be used for partisan activities, Church workers or officials need to give up their posts.
Bishop Ongtioco said those who do not win can reapply for their positions subject to the approval of the parish priest, while those who are elected and who wish to continue serving in their parishes cannot serve as officials of any Church organisation, but only as ordinary members.
“Their application to continue serving the parish will also be subject to the approval of the parish priest,” he said.
However, Bishop Ongtioco said the decision of several of the lay leaders in his diocese to seek elected posts is a “welcome development.”
He noted that it is in line with the mission of the Church to renew the country’s political affairs according to “gospel principles and values.”
The bishop cited the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines document that finds an “urgent necessity” for the lay faithful “to participate more actively, with singular competence and integrity, in political affairs.”
Bishop Ongtioco stressed, however, that the pursuit of the common good should be “the basic standard for participation” in politics.
Filing for candidacy in the May 14 elections started on April 14 and ended April 20.
Authorities have already imposed a nationwide ban on the carrying of guns and have set up police and military checkpoints in preparation for the elections.
Armed forces spokesperson, Brigadier General Bievenido Datuin, assured that the military has not come across specific threats to the elections.
He said the deployment of soldiers and police aims to assist voters and “deter any move by interest groups that might be inimical to good order.”
Filipinos will be electing the heads and members of village councils and members of youth councils in 42,028 barangays (villages) throughout the country.

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