Priest tells mayor: ‘Why get angry?’

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Friday, May 30, 2014


FATHER Greg Patiño, priest of Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Murcia, Negros Occidental, said Thursday he is not surprised by the plan of Mayor Andrew Montelibano to oust him and his assistant, Fr. Agustin Hinayan.

Montelibano earlier said the priests have been hurling unfounded issues against the town officials related to illegal drugs and illegal gambling.

“We don’t single out who is the user or the pusher. We are only educating the parishioners about the bad effects of drugs and gambling.”

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So, “Why get mad”? Fr. Patiño asked.

Fr. Patiño said that while it is true that their sermons touch on illegal gambling and illegal drugs, they are not implicating anyone.

The parish priest said the crimes in Murcia were mostly related to drugs and gambling and “the figure is alarming.”

He added that it is not only him and Fr. Hinayan who are campaigning against illegal drugs and illegal gambling but also the pastors of Christian denominations.

“It is part of our moral obligation to teach, guide and enlighten the parishioners,” Fr. Patiño said.

He said they have talked personally with the mayor last week and brought up the problem.

For his part, Montelibano said the Municipal Government along with the town’s barangay leaders will file a petition for the ouster of the two priests.

The mayor also challenged Fr. Hinayan to a debate after Monday’s flag-raising ceremony at the town plaza.

“I’ll wait for him at the plaza at 8 a.m. on Monday so that they would know the reactions of the employees and the people of Murcia. I want this matter clarified. They are hurting the people of Murcia. Face-to-face in a debate, we will answer their charges against us,” Montelibano said.

The mayor also confirmed that all officials and employees of the municipal government underwent a surprise drug test Thursday.

“I hope this will answer all issues and questions raised against us. We hope to solve the problems in Murcia that cropped up because of these issues,” Montelibano said.

He added: “We have decided to undergo a drug test to clarify the issues once and for all. We are willing take on the challenge of the priests that we undergo a drug test every day provided they pay for it. They have money after all.”

He added that the priests are being sarcastic after they allegedly laughed after the officials took their challenge to undergo a drug test.

The results will be known either Thursday or Friday next week.

The drug test was done by a private laboratory that also conducted the surprise drug test for the officials and employees of the cities of Victorias and San Carlos.

Montelibano said the expenses were shouldered by the Municipal Government.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 30, 2014.

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