Sunday, December 13, 2009

Priest-Governor, Anyone?

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


  1. pano naman ang kay Among Ed Panlilio?

  2. its not too hard to understand naman... if you want!... but if not... you can find way(s)...

    ang kamandag ng pulitika ay tetanong umakyat at mahirap ng alisin... pumasok na kasi sa kaniyang sistema!

  3. To Anonymous : Si Among Ed bago kumandidato ay alam na ng kanyang Obispo na siya ay lalahok sa larangan ng pulitika at kaagad siyang sinuspinde. Si Among Ed ay hindi pumanig alinman sa dalawang paksyong pulitikal sa Pampanga kaya may katwiran siya na sabihing siya ay alternative politician dahil hindi siya na-identify sa mga ito o naimpluwensiyahan man lang ng mga tradisyunal na pulitikong nabanggit. Ang ministry ni Among Ed ay panlipunan at pampulitika bago pa man siya naging kandidato. Matagal siyang naging social action director sa kanilang diocese. Ilan lamang iyan sa mga pagkakaibang nais kong banggitin.

    Salamat sa pagdalaw sa "Pamatok"...

  4. jazz got dis from a 4tune cookie : d best time to cloze ur mouth is wen u r in deep shit
    -Mindoro Turk

  5. i ask fr.ronnie why did he run for governor last election, he said he dont want the old politics in our town so he should do something for the people. we all know that its against the catholic church to cross the lines between church and state but he need to sacrifice... for the better of our province, lets hope that the dynasty of the one's who's on top will gone. even though he sided to one of them, but the point is we cant put two old dynasty in 2 alternating position coz we will end to nothing. face to face corruption etc.
    thats all thx =)

  6. i prefer Omanio than Sato....if there's no one to face and fight evil God sends in order to win the battle.....

  7. A God-sent does not necessarily mean to proceed from the ranks of the clergy or the religious.
    In Jesus' time, the Savior was not from the priests in the temple. He was son of a carpenter -- that is, hoi poloi, or ordinary man, or rakyat (in melayu), or masa (in tagalog).
    At saka sa kasaysayan ng ating bansa, ang paglaban sa anumang kasamaan ay hindi gawain ng mga di pangkaraniwang tao. Ang paniniwala sa mga bida-bida o superhero (lalaki man o babae o pang-gitna) ay para lamang sa mga bata, o yung mga di maisip na sila ay factor para sa pagbabago ng lipunan.

  8. But why did he identify himself with one of "the two dynasty" if he wants to do something about this bad situation? Why he did not run as true independent candidate to be actually true alternative politician like what Among Ed did in Pampanga in 2007? With this, he will not be living and working under the shadow of the same people and system that he is suppose to fight.

    Yes, it is our duty as soldiers of Christ, to fight corruption and other social ills but it is also equally importatnt to ask whose horse we ride and swords we wield. The most invincible warrior is a knight supported by the people or masses and not the elite. Because at the end of the day, to go out from somebody's shadow and influence would be as hard, if not as impossible, as fighting a quixotic windmill.

    Thanks every one for dropping by and following your "yoke"...

  9. norman, if i may phrase your argument in theological wordings: kung kailangang magdala ni omanio ng pagbabago sa lipunan, dapat siyang maging isang pulitikal na lider subalit hindi siya dapat maging katulad nila (na nangyari nang maging kaisa siya ng isang politikal na dinastiya sa probinsiya).
    si hesus ay naging kagaya natin sa lahat ng bagay nang maisakatuparan ang misteryo ng inkarnasyon o pagkakatawang-tao. subalit hindi siya naging katulad natin bilang makasalanang tao (at ito ang dahilan kung bakit nakapagdala siya at naging karapatdapat na tagapagdala ng kaligtasan).

  10. i do agree... father omanio MUST HAVE NOT joined any party should he really wanted to be a BRINGER of change. why? clinging to any party definitely made him one of them and there is no way he can initiate changes in the political system as he claims to be the reason why he is running. more so, in the governance of the province because he will definitely put many things in consideration once he gets elected. why again? how can you be a "candidate of change" when you yourself are indebted to so and so... I DOUBT!

  11. To Anonymous who commented : “even though he sided to one of them, but the point is we cant put two old dynasty in 2 alternating position coz we will end to nothing. face to face corruption etc…” The statement, with all due respect to you, is unfair to his present political boss and even to himself as a party man and a gentleman in politics. It would appear he is just taking the trapos in the province one by one and the next time around he will bite the hands that feed him so that a genuine alternative politician in him will be born? Wasn’t it a treacherous act? And its even more nastier. Politics and governance is not only about corruption but more about trust and loyalty. What a reasoning. Tsk, tsk, tsk…

  12. well, thanks then. i stand to be corrected. but tell me about trust and loyalty if this politician or should i say priest turned politician did not turn his back from a more credible kind of service he might have been "enjoying". i hope that's what he has in mind... to become a politico of change. i tell you, you have to count centuries before one like him does what you say. isn't his way of turning away from priesthood not a treachery? isn't his way of turning away from his ministry not nasty? no offense meant to those who also left the priesthood for some other reasons for i have heard about priests leaving the priesthood without harming anybody and stood by their decision. should he not dragged the church where he came from in making his decision to turn to politics, i would have believed in him. that from the very beginning he had been honest with himself that he really wanted politics and had not used issues against anybody to run his course, then he is not trapo. yes, politics and governance re not only about corruption but i think we also have to include in your trust and loyalty - justice and ethics for that. though i myself is now becoming unjust and unethical. my apology.

  13. Fr. Omanio knows who among the key politicians in Occ. Mindoro are the most evil (in contrast to a saying "choose the least evil"). If he is truly sincere to bring change and political maturity in the province, he should have aspired for a position that will challenge the position of the "most evil" candidate.