Sunday, December 13, 2009
It’s now official. Fr. Ronilo M. Omanio will be again gunning for gubernatorial position in Occidental Mindoro in 2010. In our interview with OIC Provincial Election Officer Perlita Villangca last week over DZVT, Fr. Omanio, together with incumbent governor Josephine Ramirez-Sato and a certain Regalado Dimayacyac, filed their respective Certificates of Candidacy (CoC) before the provincial Commission on Election (COMELEC) office in Mamburao within the prescribed filing period.
I do not wish to deal with the issue regarding Church’s law for I am just an ordinary layman not competent to discuss matters pertaining to Canon Law specifically Canon 282 Paragraph 3 which states, “Clerics are forbidden to assume public office whenever it means sharing in the experience of civil power” and Canon 287 Paragraph 2 which says clerics, “are not to play an active role in political parties or in directing trade unions unless, in the judgment of the competent ecclesiastical authority, this is required for the defense of the rights of the Church or to promote the common good.” I am not in a position to interpret neither present my opinion on the subjects for I do not have any formal course on Canon Law. Let us leave that to competent ecclesiastical authorities of our local Church say our respective parish priests because it's one of their pastoral duties to enlighten us on such matter. They, not us workers of the social communication apostolate, are the most credible when it comes to said universal law. Besides, in a typical Filipino family, children are told, “Huwag sasabat sa usapan ng matatanda.” Unless of course when you are given go-signal like what I get before I open my mouth in our radio show.
What really made me feel sad is the fact that some quarters, presumably also from the Catholic circle in our province, have even gone as far as hurling accusations against Church personalities via this post created by an unknown blogger in 2007. Today, some quarters even questioned Bishop Antonio P. Palang’s issuance of Circular 4, s. 2009 or the “Decree on Fr. Ronilo M. Omanio’s Candidacy” dated 3 December 2009 which says in part : “As you publicly know, Fr. Omanio was suspended last March 30, 2007 after he filed his candidacy for governor of Occidental Mindoro, Philippines. …This time, he filed again his candidacy as governor of Occidental Mindoro. It is unfortunate that this thing would happen : an open defiance against the Universal Law of the Catholic Church.” The Decree further states : “Holy Mother Church could not tolerate this thing to happen, but this happened anyway. We therefore give him a six-month warning." Here’s the parting statement of Bishop Palang in said Decree : “I therefore decree that he cannot use the name of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose or the Roman Catholic Church, for they have nothing to do with his candidacy. I further warned Fr. Omanio that he should not and cannot administer the sacraments. Finally, I shall not hesitate to recommend later to the Holy See in Rome for his dismissal from the clerical state.” The Decree was signed by Bishop Palang and his Chancellor, Msgr. Mario R. Ronquillo. One political patron even alleged that our incumbent governor influenced the church hierarchy to mar Fr. Omanio’s candidacy but citing no single instance, evidence or proof to support his claim. Or was the kingpin just fed by wrong information and half-truths? But see how traditional politics complicate this very serious matter of defying Church’s law by one of her lost sheep or,- should I say, shepherd.
To those who are Catholics who want to study or dig deeper into the subject, it is recommended to read this book to enlighten us on the phenomenon of priests going into politics. It’s a long read that requires patience. Please finish it and find out why it is forbidden anywhere in the world.
In our Gospel today (Luke 3:10-18), three times people asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?” Each time he told them to give up something or not to be greedy. Because greed is everywhere, we need men and women of faith,- especially men of cloth who are completely identified with Jesus and not with politicians. That was the journey John the Baptist asked his hearers to make. A journey where we are challenged to make this Advent an occasion to realize the true joy and happiness given to us by the Immanuel and not any political patron and patroness disguised as messiah in our midst.
As a Catholic voter, no matter who will come out as governor in 2010, I am praying that may s/he live an upright private life and morally sound public agenda and change their old ways, and be competent and capable public servant/s. Nobody is stopping him to run but Fr. Omanio have to choose : be a fulltime priest or a fulltime politician. Life indeed is a decision after another. And conversion is not only expected from politicians but also of us, voters. Over and above, as followers of Christ.
Just a personal reflection : Any cleric, the very moment he left his active priestly ministry is indeed a big loss for the Church and the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs). The Church already lost Fr. Omanio in 2007 and it’s so hurting then. But God utilize time to heal all the wounds and to remember the lessons we have learned (or unlearned?) since then. This time, his euphemistical slip is not only showing but can be subjected to public scrutiny.
Is Fr. Omanio’s recent filing of his CoC already a sign that he wants to,- once and for all, be laicized and be fulltime politician? I don’t know. Let’s hear from him …
(Photo of the book "Priest-Politicians" by Bishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz, Doctor of Canon Law. Image taken from CBCP.net)