Masbate priest wants to be 'instrument of change'

Posted at 10/06/2012 12:45 PM | Updated as of 10/06/2012 9:31 PM

Says entering politics is his greatest sacrifice

MANILA, Philippines - A Catholic priest who filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) in Masbate on Friday said entering politics was a hard decision to make.

"Pero alang-alang sa mga kababayan natin sa Masbate at alang-alang sa pagbabago, this will be the greatest sacrifice na gagawin ko sa punto ng buhay na ito," said Fr. Leo Casas during an interview with dzMM.

Casas, 37, is running for the gubernatiorial seat in Masbate under the Liberal Party banner. He is now on leave from priesthood.

He said deciding on whether to run or not gave him several sleepless nights, and like the late President Corazon Aquino and her son, President Benigno "PNoy" Aquino, he also had to take a spiritual retreat.

"Mahirap na desisyon ang ginawang ito. Mahirap na sakripisyo. Papasok ako sa isang buhay kung saan di ko alam kung anong mangyayari sa akin bukas at ano kaya ang kahihinatnang dito," he said.

Like Atty. Leni Robredo, the wife of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, running was really never in his plans.

"Ito po ay wala sa plano. Ni panaginip sa aking buhay di ko akalain papasok ako sa ganito," he said.

But the person chosen by various sectors in the province to run eventually backed out, he said.

"Ako po yung napili ng grupo, ayaw ko sana , pero yung sitwasyon dito sa Masbate, ito po siguro ang naging dahilan kung bakit ako pumasok sa pulitika," he said.

He explained that poverty, political dynasties and problems with peace and order are just some of the concerns of people in the province.

"Kung hindi tayo gagalaw, mananatiling ganito ang aming probinsiya. Sabi namin, ito na siguro ang panahon para tumayo ang mga Masbateño para naman magkaroon ng pagbabgo sa aming probinsiya," he said.

Aside from the spiritual retreat, Casas said he also consulted with Robredo's widow, whose own filing of COC also shocked him. Casas and the late DILG secretary were good friends.

Casas explained that a priest is not allowed to run for public office.

"Ang necessary consequence sa aking desisyon ay yung sinasabing suspension sa ministerial function sa simbahan," he said.

But Casas firmly stated that he will still return to his first calling. "I will just be the instrument of pagbabago."

As for their campaign budget, Casas said it's going to be a people's campaign where they will bank on the support of people.

"Tao po ang sasandalan sa kampanyang ito," said Casas.

He cited as an example the filing of COC on Friday. He shared it was their supporters who contributed to buy food and to pay for their gas during the filing of his COC.

Casas and his group are likewise ready to face all the challenges that may come their way in his election bid, including violence.

He said they were alarmed when one of the men of their congressional candidate was killed in an ambush on Friday.

"Yung tauhan niya binaril, tinambangan kagabi. Hindi pa simula ang campaign period nabawasan kagad kami. Ito ang haharapin namin aside from dayaan dahil ang Masbate po lagi kaming hotspot," he said.

Casas said they believe in the capacity of the Philippine National Police to resolve the incident. -- With a report from dzMM