Bishop Joel Baylon of Legaspi diocese is being criticized for allegedly supporting a disqualified politician coupleFilipino Catholic conservatives object to bishop’s politicking – UCA News
Filipino Bishop Joel Baylon in a photograph taken on April 13, 2007. (Photo: AFP)
By Joseph Peter Calleja Published: October 29, 2022 04:52 AM GMT
Conservative Catholics in the Philippines have criticized a bishop for allegedly supporting a disqualified politician couple in his diocese.
The Christian Family Movement for Better Governance filed a complaint on Oct. 27 against Bishop Joel Baylon of Legaspi diocese in the Bicol region, southern Luzon, for attending a prayer rally in support of Albay governor Noel Rosal and his wife, Legaspi Mayor Carmen Rosal.
“Bishop Baylon’s actions constitute a violation of Canon Law which prohibits ordained clerics to engage in partisan politics,” the group’s executive director John Jubilo told UCA News.
Jubilo said the prelate’s actions were nowhere justifiable as the Rosals were both disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Oct. 4. and sacked for “illegal release of public funds” during election time, which is an offense.
The group was thus compelled to file a complaint against him with the apostolic nunciature in Manila, he added.
A private complainant, who’s a detractor of the disqualified politicians, also wrote to the apostolic nuncio about the prelate’s “divisive” actions.
“The action of the bishop is divisive as he’s shown partiality towards a certain group or individual. His actions directly contradict his basic function as a Bishop of the Church,” Joseph Armogila told reporters.
He further accused the prelate of “publicly supporting” the disqualified couple by sending text messages of support while referring to the “alleged injustice” against the elected governor.
Bishop Baylon defended himself saying his presence meant nothing but support for the people’s right to vote.
“First, I am a citizen. Like you, I have been given the right of suffrage. My responsibility as a voter does not end there as a voter…This is the reason why we are here. This is not because we are supporting the people in power, but we want to express that our right to suffrage must be protected,” Bishop Baylon told the Rosals’ supporters on Oct. 15.
Bishop Baylon also said he would support whatever is the will of the majority.
“Whatever decision we make, especially the will of the people must be followed, respected and obeyed,” he said.
Both Noel and Carmen Rosal were found to have released cash assistance to public transport drivers in their province using public funds during an election period, lawyer Paul Dorion told UCA News.