Thursday, August 05, 2021

Bacolod Church takes poster issue to court

THE Diocese of Bacolod takes the issue of their 'Team Patay, Team Buhay' poster bearing their stand against those who voted for the Reproductive Health (RH) law to the Supreme Court Friday.

Monsignor Louie Galbines, Vicar General of the San Sebastian Cathedral where the poster was first displayed last February 22, said that the Diocese came up with this decision in a meeting Thursday with their legal team which includes lawyers Ralph Sarmiento, Michelle Abella and Raymundo Pandan.

The petition will be filed before the Supreme Court today, Galbines said.

The Diocese also held an emergency press conference after the meeting with the lawyers Thursday.

The church made the move after the head of the Legal Department of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) asked Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra to remove the oversized “Team Patay, Team Buhay” tarpaulin in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral, otherwise, the agency will file an election offense case against him.

Galbines said that they are not going to reduce the size of the tarpaulin and will not also remove the existing one.

"The Comelec is doing an unconstitutional move because the tarpaulin in question is not an electoral campaign material but an expression of (the Church’s) opposition to the RH Law covered by the broader constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression and conscience," Galbines said.

Msgr. Felix Pasquin, Rector of the San Sebastian Cathedral, said that the posting of the tarpaulin was only a consequence of a major campaign against the RH law.

“God teaches us about the paramount right of a man which is the right to life. All other rights are derived from the right to life,” Pasquin said.

“The Catholic Church continued to bring this matter to the pulpit. This is more of a mission to remind us of our faithfulness to God and His teachings,” he added.

Comelec Legal Department Director IV, Esmeralda Amora-Ladra, in a letter to Navarra, also said that they pray that the Catholic Church will be the first institution to help the Coemlec in ensuring the conduct of peaceful, orderly, honest and credible elections.

Amora-Ladra said it has reached the attention of the Comelec that Bacolod Election Officer Mavil Majarucon-Sia had already given notice to the Diocese in February 22 that the tarpaulin was oversized.

The six by 10 feet tarpaulin is found to be in violation of Comelec Resolution 9615 which states that the size of election propaganda material should only be two by three feet, Amora-Ladra said.

The Diocese, during the press conference Thursday, revealed that other churches in Negros Occidental, and dioceses in other parts of the country are also planning to put up similar “Team Patay, Team Buhay” tarpaulins as an expression of their objection to the RH law, after such move of the Diocese of Bacolod reached the national level and is now being talked about all over the country.

The controversy started during the February 22 political rally of Team PNoy at the Bacolod City Public Plaza where the sound of church bells and mass was noticed to have mixed with the sound and speeches of the Team PNoy senatorial candidates.

However, Pasquin explained that the church mass and bells were for the feast of the Chair of Peter and were not meant to mix up or disturb the Team PNoy rally.
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