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Political education and electoral reform campaign launched by the Diocese of Naval

March 16, 2007

NAVAL, Biliran  –  The Diocese of Naval under the religious leadership of the Most Reverend Filomeno G. Bactol launched the political education and electoral reform campaign yesterday at the Cathedral Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in preparation for the coming national and local elections in May, this year.

To instill in the minds of our people the sanctity of the ballot, the political education and electoral reform campaign carries the theme “Balota ko Sagrado” with an entailing slogan “No to Vote-Buying, No to Vote-Selling”.

The launching which started with a mass and a parade around the town of Naval was attended by the members of the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) and other religious organizations  of the Diocese of Naval, and students from the Cathedral School of La Naval.

For those in attendance to hear opinions other than local religious leaders, Fr. Jose Cecilio J. Magadia “Fr. Jojo” to his close friends, SJ, from Manila was invited to talk on selected topics as guiding principles in the electoral processes.

The topics discussed by Fr. Jojo were on “Ang Pagtulun-an sa Simbahan Mahitungod sa Politika, Cha-Cha, ug Eleksyon” and “Balota Ko Sagrado: No To Vote-Buying, No To Vote-Selling”.

After the discussion of the selected topics, the participants asked their questions during the open forum.

Since Fr. Jojo is not from the province of Biliran and is not familiar with the political atmosphere of the province, his answers were purely based on the neutral ground.

When asked if the church can assure non-engagement of its faithful particularly its laymen from vote-buying and vote selling, Fr. Jojo gave no assurance.

He said that the church cannot monitor the activities of its faithful and laymen on election day but rather the church can assure to minimize their participation in vote-buying and vote-selling by massive voters’ education campaign.

He said that the church must not endorse any political party or candidate.  It has to let its people vote through their conscience.

Priests who engage themselves in partisan politics should be suspended from their ministry, Fr. Jojo added.

To enlighten the parishioners and its people, a pastoral letter from the Diocese of Naval was handed to the parish priests from 14 parishes of the diocese.

The Diocese of Naval is composed of the parishes of Naval; Almeria; Kawayan; Culaba; Caibiran; Cabucgayan; Biliran; Maripipi; Leyte, Leyte; Calubian; San Isidro; Tabango; Lucsoon in the municipality of Naval; and Villalon in the municipality of Calubian.