BACOLOD CITY—Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra on Friday filed a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and injunction asking the Supreme Court to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from enforcing an order for the city’s diocese to remove a controversial tarpaulin listing senatorial candidates who should be rejected and voted for.
“On behalf of the bishop and the Diocese of Bacolod, I have just filed at the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition with application for injunction and TRO versus the Comelec,” said Ralph Sarmiento, lawyer of Navarra.
Sarmiento said the petition was received by the Supreme Court at 8:26 a.m. on Friday.
The Bacolod diocese assailed the Comelec order for the Church to remove a tarpaulin with the tag “Team Patay, Team Buhay” from San Sebastian Cathedral in the city.
The tarpaulin lists down what the Church said are candidates who should be rejected or voted for based on their stands on reproductive health (RH).
The diocese, led by Navarra, also insisted that the Comelec order is unconstitutional and void. The Church leaders said the tarpaulin represented the Church’s exercise of freedom of expression.
The Church leaders also said the government cannot interfere with Church affairs because of the principle of separation of Church and State, according to Sarmiento.
The Bacolod diocese also asked the high court to issue an order that would permanently restrain the Comelec or its officials from enforcing the order to have the tarpaulin removed.
Seven senatorial candidates were tagged by the diocese as members of Team Patay for supporting the reproductive health law.
The candidates tagged by the diocese as members of Team Patay are Juan Edgardo Angara, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Risa Hontiveros, Teddy Casiño and Jack Enrile.
Party-list groups Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Akbayan and Anak Pawis are also on the Team Patay list.
Six senatorial candidates—Joseph Victor Ejercito-Estrada, Antonio Trillanes, Gregorio Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel and Cynthia Villar—are on the Team Buhay list for opposing the RH law.