BACOLOD CITY—Now, there is a “Team Buang (crazy).”
A text message was circulated here on Monday in defense of five priests of the diocese of Bacolod who have been the subject of “Team Tatay (father)” text messages for allegedly siring children.
The Team Tatay text message began circulating last week after the diocese of Bacolod’s posting of the “Team Patay/Team Buhay” tarpaulin on the facade of San Sebastian Cathedral.
The tarpaulin listed the names of senatorial candidates and party-list groups that voted for and against the measure that became the reproductive health (RH) law.
The new text message said, “We want to defend our priests from the text messages being circulated by Team Buang.”
It named two former seminarians who were made to leave the seminary for having mental problems. One seminarian allegedly was making money off people he was fooling.
The text message said the two former seminarians were angry with the clergymen for putting a stop to their modus operandi and were sending out text messages to destroy the priests.
The Team Patay tarpaulin listed Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Jack Enrile, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Teddy Casiño who voted in favor of the RH law.
Joseph Victor Ejercito Estrada, Antonio Trillanes IV, Gregorio Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel and Cynthia Villar were listed under Team Buhay for being prolife.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the 6-by-10 feet tarpaulin at San Sebastian Cathedral exceeded the allowable size of 2 by 3 feet and should be taken down.
The diocese of Bacolod countered that the tarpaulin was part of its anti-RH law campaign covered by the law on the freedom of expression.
The Supreme Court has granted the diocese a temporary restraining order and is set to hear the matter on March 19.
New Team Patay tarpaulins have been put up in churches in the diocese of Bacolod, but in smaller versions. The tarpaulins bear the message: “Diocese of Bacolod Pro-Life Forever, Team Patay Never.”
Provincial Election Officer Wil Arceño on Monday said the Comelec had no problem with the new tarpaulins because no rules were violated as they did not bear the names of candidates.
Quezon province, too
The Team Patay and Team Buhay posters have spread to the diocese of Lucena City in Quezon province. Several tarpaulins, measuring 2 by 3 feet, were posted on the wall of Saint Ferdinand Cathedral.
In a pastoral letter read in 36 churches in Quezon on Sunday, Bishop Emilio Marquez called on the faithful to reject candidates who voted for the bill that became the RH law.
Marquez has sent copies of the pastoral letter to the diocese of Gumaca and the prelature of Infanta, which still have no resident bishops.
In Cebu City, several Team Buhay and Team Patay tarpaulins were fastened to metal posts on a concrete base and placed outside the premises of some major churches.
The tarpaulins were divided into two areas—red for Team Buhay and black for Team Patay.
On the Team Buhay list were independent senatorial candidates Lito David, JC de los Reyes and Marwil Llasos. On the Team Patay list were Angara, Casiño, Cayetano, Enrile, Escudero, Hontiveros and Legarda as well as party-list groups Gabriela, Akbayan, Bayan Muna and Anakpawis.
On another tarpaulin were the words “Make sure your candidates are Team Buhay! Don’t vote for Team Patay. Those on Team Patay were those who promoted and voted in favor of the controversial reproductive health law which is considered by the Church as unconstitutional and immoral.”
The tarpaulins were seen at the gate of the Patria de Cebu, which is owned by the diocese of Cebu, and the Rajah Humabon Park in front of Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
Similar tarpaulins were placed outside the premises of the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Barangay (village) Punta Princesa and the Our Lady of Guadalupe in Barangay Guadalupe.
Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer of the archdiocese of Cebu, said the tarpaulins did not come from the clergy.
“Only the laity is allowed to do that. It’s clear that bishops and priests are not allowed to do so,” Dakay said in an interview on Monday.
He said the Church officials, however, would not order the removal of the tarpaulins since the persons who were behind these had the right to post those messages.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said lay leaders spearheaded by the Council of the Laity were calling for unity and vigilance in connection with “antilife issues.”
“As baptized Christians and members of the Church, they call for guidance, support and collaboration with the clergy in their prolife advocacy,” Palma said in a letter addressed to all parish priests and religious communities in the archdiocese.
He said the different lay groups organized themselves to promote prolife candidates in the coming elections.
“I saw this as an expression of faith from the discernment of the lay faithful who are the majority members of the Catholic Church and the majority of the Filipino people,” the 62-year-old prelate said.
Palma, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, urged parish priests and religious communities to “aid and assist” the lay faithful in their quest to “guide” the electorate.