Elected priest remains suspended: Palma-A A +A
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
USING his P25,000 savings in his campaign, suspended Catholic priest Oscar Banzon, 55, succeeded in convincing residents of Barangay Kawit, Medellin to elect him as their captain.
But his victory does not mean an end to his suspension as priest.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said Banzon remains suspended for violating Canon Law.
Before Banzon filed his candidacy, he sought permission from Palma to take a sabbatical leave.
But Palma said he did grant Banzon his request as it is not proper for a priest to join politics.
Based on Canon 285 of the Code of Canon Law, priests are forbidden to assume public offices, which entail participation in the exercise of civil power.
Banzon’s suspension was made final after Palma found out that the priest filed his certificate of candidacy.
Banzon promised voters transparency, responsibility and accountability in handling the barangay.
He said he will stop corruption and illegal fishing in the barangay and introduce alternative livelihood to residents.
He denied buying votes to win in last Monday’s election.
“Wa man ko’y kwarta (para ipalit). Naa koy daghang amigo diri (I don’t have money.
What I have here are friends),” he said.
He said there is still left in his savings after spending for food and transportation of his supporters and for campaign materials.
He said his heart belongs to Kawit, one of the 19 barangays in Medellin. He served the parish from 1995 to 2001, his first assignment after he was ordained.
It was during his stay there that he met councilor Venus Atienza.
His rival, Charito Areglado, only got 1,127 votes, while he got 1,210 votes.
Banzon ran his campaign on his own.
“Ako ray nakadaog nga dili kaalyado sa mayor (Mayor Ricky Ramirez). Ginoo ra gyud ang kuyog nako (I’m the only candidate who won and who is not allied with the mayor. I only had God with me),” he said.
He plans to organize projects like pig dispersal, goat dispersal and livestock raising for the barangay.
Asked where he will get funding for his programs, he said he trusts the administration of Gov. Hilario Davide III and Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale.
“Magtukod ko og botika sa barangay, maghimo og longon (I will set up a barangay
pharmacy. I will make coffins),” he said.
He said he will not leave his post until he achieves his goals for the barangay.
After that, he will return as priest, he said.
When asked about his relationship with Atienza and his suspension, Banzon said, “I will be a priest and di ko mo-comment ana.”
Palma respects the decision of Kawit residents in electing Banzon.
“They must have seen something in him (Banzon),” he said.
Msgr. Esteban Binghay, a Canon lawyer, said Banzon remains a priest but only in name.
“He is still a priest but he can no longer exercise his priestly faculties, such as hearing confessions or celebrating mass,” Binghay said.
Binghay said Banzon’s suspension can be lifted, depending on the decision of the Archbishop.
Banzon is not the first case of a Catholic priest running for public office.
In 2007, Fr. Eddie Panlilio ran and won as governor of Pampanga.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 30, 2013.