Supreme Court issues TRO vs Comelec-A A +A
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
THE Supreme Court (SC) issued Tuesday a temporary restraining order (TRO) barring the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from enforcing its directive to remove the Team Patay/Team Buhay tarpaulins at the Bacolod Cathedral and ordered oral arguments on March 19.
Lawyer Ralph Sarmiento, legal counsel of the Diocese of Bacolod, confirmed this on Tuesday, in line with the petition filed by the Church Friday last week before the highest court of the land.
Sarmiento said the Comelec was also given 10 days to comment on the petition filed by the Diocese of Bacolod and Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra.
The urgent petition was filed seeking to declare as unconstitutional the Comelec’s order, maintaining that it infringes on their right to freedom of expression and violated the principle of separation of Church and State.
“[The] petitioners’ position against the RH (reproductive health) law is not only a matter of exercise of its freedom of expression and of conscience but is also a matter of Catholic faith, morals, belief and of duty,” the church stated in its petition.
The Comelec, through chairman Sixto Brillantes, has threatened to file appropriate charges against the person or persons behind the posting of an oversized tarpaulin at the wall in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral.
The tarpaulin drew mixed reactions, as it bears the names of senatorial candidates and party-list groups, grouping them under Team Patay that includes Sonny Angara, Teddy Casino, Alan Peter Cayetano, Jack Enrile, Chiz Escudero, Risa Hontiveross and Loren Legarda and party-list groups Gabriela, Albayan, Bayan Muna and Anak Pawis, while those under Team Buhay include JV Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes and Cynthia Villar and party-list groups Buhay and Ang Pamilya.
Sarmiento said Bishop Navarra is very happy to hear the news, adding the prelate considers it a big victory on the fight of the diocese to stand by its constitutional rights to freedom of expression and to protect the principle of separation of Church and State.
“All the while, we were trying to fight this out. I was believing that the Lord God will really hear our prayer for the simple reason that, starting from him, the last priest and faithful in Bacolod believe that this is not about fighting for our own fight but fighting for God and His right. It is about time for the people to stand for our faith and make it known to everybody that, no matter what happens, despite the contradictions and persecutions, we will have to stand for our faith," the bishop said in an interview.
He added it is also about time to make the people realize that “now, we should cultivate the correct and right conscience that stands for truth that is ready to distinguish what is good from evil and that the rights of God should be protected at all cost.”
Navarra said he has nothing personal against the Comelec. "I pray for them for enlightenment and may God bless us all."
Fr. Segundo Chua, the bishop’s secretary, also announced Tuesday the SC order before the more than 3,000 Catholic faithful who gathered at the San Sebastian Cathedral to venerate the relics of St. Therese. (With CNC)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 06, 2013.