Bishop Vicente Navarra and his legal team are optimistic the Supreme Court will uphold the right of the Diocese of Bacolod to freedom of expression through its “Team Patay/Team Buhay” tarpaulin in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City, lawyer Ralph Sarmiento said yesterday.
Navarra, Fr. Ireneo Gordoncillo and Diocese lawyers Mitchelle Abella, Raymundo Pandan and Sarmiento are set to appear before the SC en banc at 2 p.m. today for the hearing of their petition for certiorari and prohibition with application for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order filed against the COMELEC.
The COMELEC had ordered the Diocese of Bacolod to remove its 6 by 10 feet “Team Patay/Team Buhay” tarpaulin that bears the names of senatorial candidates and partylist groups who voted for and against the Reproductive Health Law, for being oversized, in violation of the rule on campaign materials that should only be 2 by 3 feet.
On March 5, the SC en banc issued a temporary restraining order stopping the COMELEC from removing the tarpaulin.
“Our team is optimistic that the Supreme Court will see it our way…Actually, it’s not only the Diocese and the bishop who will benefit from the results of this case. Everyone will benefit as the case will clarify the limits of the powers of government, especially of the COMELEC, vis–à–vis our fundamental rights, like the freedom of expression,” Sarmiento said.
“The case will also clarify the proper demarcation line between the Church and the State to prevent intrusions into the affairs of one by the other. So, this case will have a very big contribution in the movement of Constitutional jurisprudence that will serve as guide for future cases,” Sarmiento added.
He said various Catholic churches are praying for the Diocese and they are calling for more prayers from the faithful today.*CPG