Two Bicolano priests suspended permanently for joining politics
By Rhaydz B. Barcia
For entering local politics, two clergies in Bicol were permanently suspended to perform their clerical duties.
In a statement released by the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Fr. Granwell Pitapit who served the Libmanan diocese’s social action ministry was suspended permanently and will no longer be allowed to perform clerical duties for seeking public office.
Fr. Pitapit will run for the mayoralty post in May 2022 elections in Libmanan, the largest municipality in Camarines Sur.
Bishop Jose R. Rojas Jr., of the Diocese of Libmanan said the canon law is clear on the issue as the laws of the church stated that priests can’t play a role in politics and the priest’s action warrants suspension.
“Such suspension is deemed irreversible, thus preventing him permanently from returning to the priestly ministry,” Rojas said in a circular dated Oct. 22 but was only made public on Oct. 26.
The prelate informed the public that following Pitapit’s departure from the priestly ministry, he no longer represents the diocese and the Church “in any way”.
Rojas said Pitapit will no longer be involved with the social action programs of the diocese of Libmanan.
“He is, therefore, not authorized to make any solicitations in the name of the Church, and neither in relation to any pro-poor programs sponsored by the Church and the diocese,” Rojas pointed out.
But the prelate, who also heads the doctrinal office of the episcopal conference, stated that the cleric’s suspension does not necessarily mean dispensation from his priestly vows such as celibacy.
“Such vows, therefore, continue to bind him and can only be completely suppressed through the process of laicization. Nonetheless, Fr. Pitapit is now free, without incurring further canonical censure, to engage in secular undertakings that do not violate his priestly vows,” he added.
The other Bicolano clergy suspended permanently to perform his clerical duties was Fr. Emmanuel “Noli” Alparce of the Diocese of Sorsogon.
Fr. Noli is running for local councilor in Bacacay town in Albay province under the camp of re-electionist Mayor Dinky Romano.
Pitapit and Alparce are two Bicolano clergies who joined the political race in the upcoming 2022 nationals and local elections. Alparce also previously headed the social action ministry of the Diocese of Sorsogon.
While another priest in the Diocese of Tagum was also suspended for joining the political exercises.
Luego is also seeking election for mayoral post in Davao de Oro province’s Mabini town.
Pitapit, Alparce and Luego previously headed the social action ministry of their dioceses.